AMD has had a year of ups and downs. More ups than downs, with Ryzen, Threadripper and Epyc processors all becoming major successes. It spells the reinvigoration of the desktop computer hardware market. On the other hand, there’s been criticism of AMD’s Vega graphics cards, both for its lateness and power (in)efficiency compared to the competition. Blame seems to have been laid firmly on one man, Raja Koduri, the (former) head of AMD’s Radeon Technologies Group.
The semiconductor world is serious business. AMD’s found this out the hard way before. If you stuff up, it can bankrupt your company in quick order. While the CPU side of the business went down the proverbial toilet with the hot and slow Bulldozer architecture, AMD’s sole saving grace was its graphics division, formerly known as ATI. Raja Korduri was hired back from Apple to help rebuild AMD and his task was no easy one.
With a limited research budget and time constraints, he was to guide the graphics engineering team in its quest to not just match, but beat Nvidia’s products. This wouldn’t just be in gaming, but also in productivity and other computing tasks. Enter Vega.
While Vega wasn’t by any means a bad product, it was seen as late, and certainly wasn’t as power efficient as it needed to be. Supply was short, and its marketing was…strange. It also ran hot, and required tweaking to get it working at its full potential. Then it was obvious Nvidia had enough firepower left in its own product engineering to dissuade potential buyers away from Vega with the GTX1070Ti.
It wasn’t the perfect launch, was it?
Right after the launch, it was announced that Raja Koduri was going on sabbatical until December. We’re well short of that time, and AMD has just announced that he will be leaving the company. In some ways, this has not come as a big surprise given the sabbatical and the criticism of Vega itself.
AMD’s CEO Dr Lisa Su will continue to run Radeon Technologies Group while a new head of graphics design is found. Work on future products will continue unabated. In the meantime, Raja Koduri’s talents will still be sought after. Who knows where he’ll end up? Apple has just embarked on an ambitious journey of designing its own graphics chips for mobile computing. Nvidia is about to take over the world with its automotive and artificial intelligence processors. Intel is buying AMD graphics cards…
The world’s your oyster Mr Koduri. Good luck out there.