What a difference a year makes. About 12 months ago it seemed like Intel was beset by organizational challenges that hobbled it product launches and allowed AMD to take away some market share. Now AMD is left fighting whiny antitrust battles and having to explain why, according to reports, its head of sales is stepping down today.
I doubt many IT managers would care about the career future of Henri Richard. They might want to know why its next chip, Barcelona, is going to be six months later than expected, and they might wonder which server manufacturers will be supporting AMD chips five years from now, but in the end this is something of a blip. If Intel is outselling AMD because it’s offering quad-core chips as opposed to dual-core, those have to be early adopters, and there are only so many of those. In many cases applications will have to mature a lot more before IT managers really exploit the capabilities of servers that offer more than single-core performance, and by that time Barcelona will be replaced by something else.
Reports indicate Richard was a brash personality that may have clashed with others in the industry, but more outrageous senior executives have survived far worse. AMD’s chief executive Hector Ruiz may have simply needed a scapegoat, and this was the one.
What AMD needs, I think, is its own version of Pat Gelsinger, Intel’s former CTO. Someone who is really good at talking about future trends in enterprise technology at a higher level, who can prove to customers that this is a company whose platform will work for them in the long-term future. You always need a good sales guy, but something tells me Richard is someone AMD can afford to replace.