AMD CTO Heads For The Door

Phil Hester

Phil Hester

Source: AMD

It seems one of the 1,600 employees leaving Advanced Micro Devices will be Chief Technology Office Phil Hester, who resigned today as senior vice president and CTO of the embattled chipmaker.

An AMD (NYSE: AMD) spokesman confirmed Hester’s departure and told that the move was unrelated to the company’s impending layoffs. Earlier this week, AMD announced lower-than-expected earnings and revenues, and said it would cut 10 percent of its 16,000-person workforce.

“He decided to leave,” AMD spokesman Rob Keosheyan said. “He leaves on good terms; it was his decision.” He added that Hester did not disclose his plans following the departure.

Semiconductor analyst Nathan Brookwood, a research fellow with Insight64, said he thought Hester did a good job during his time at AMD — and isn’t to blame for its spate of recent problems.

Only this week, for instance, the company began volume
of the Quad-Core Opteron — which had suffered persistent delays for more than a year.

However, as CTO, Hester concentrated on processors several years down the road, and was less involved with more immediate tasks like making the chip, which was where AMD stumbled.

“People will speculate that it had something to do with some of the execution problems that AMD has clearly suffered from over the past year or two, but Hester was not involved in some of the execution-oriented groups,” Brookwood said. “So I don’t think he’s to blame for that stuff.”

Hester joined AMD as CTO in 2005, replacing Fred Weber. He joined after 23 years at IBM, where he had been involved in the company’s POWER processor and workstation business in Austin.

AMD’s Keosheyan said that Hester would not be replaced. Instead, the company plans to rely more on CTOs in individual business units, a structure that Hester himself participated in setting up.

“There is already a structure in place that he helped create over the past year that’s more of a distributed model, so each primary segment has its own CTO,” Keosheyan added.

One slight change will be the role of Mike Uhler, vice president of accelerated computing, who formerly reported to Hester. Now, Uhler will report to AMD’s president and COO, Dirk Meyer.

Brookwood thinks the structural changes could work, for now.

“You have a bunch of really bright guys who share a vision of the future,” Brookwood said. Hester “was the multi-core/Fusion/heterogeneous computing guy at AMD. That won’t change with him leaving.”

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