CRN Interview: Pat Moorhead, Advanced Micro Devices

Advanced Micro Devices has been working since late last year to penetrate deeper into the corporate market via solution providers and system builders. In the wake of AMD's acquisition of ATI Technologies in late July (which is expected to close in the fourth quarter), Pat Moorhead, vice president of global channel marketing at AMD, said he believes the Sunnyvale, Calif., chip maker has an even more compelling story for its Commercial Stable Image Platform (CSIP). He spoke with Hardware Editor Kristen Kenedy about potential new opportunities in desktop, mobile, digital home and consumer-electronics platforms.

CRN: AMD outlined a number of opportunities available because of the ATI acquisition. What is AMD's vision in the digital home market?

MOORHEAD: I have to answer that in two stages: the shorter term and the longer term. In the shorter term—by that I mean 2007—we are going to be developing a best-in-class Windows Media Center platform experience by combining forces of the CPU, the graphics and the awesome video capability that ATI brings to the table.

While we are not prepared to give the explicit details because this [acquisition] deal doesn't close until the fourth quarter, it will be a combo of both of our technology and taking the awesome GPU technology that ATI brings to the platform.

More toward the future, what you are looking at are two different types of approaches, and we are going to support them both. There is the PC-centric view, and there is the device-centric view. This is the beauty of this acquisition as well.

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The PC-centric view is pretty straightforward. Depending on which type of software is most important, you can provide an appropriate solution. So if you are talking about media-centric, video is king. Then you have to have an appropriate CPU and graphics to go along with that. If you are in a graphics-centric environment, graphics is obviously king, where you can get into two, four or eight cores of graphics processing with an appropriate CPU, video and chipset.

Those two approaches combine with the consumer-electronics technologies in which ATI is a player today. Moving forward in the future, I would expect two views of solutions: one that is PC-centric, and one that is device-centric. Really, when you think about it, it doesn't matter which one wins. They are both going to win.

CRN: Could AMD processors go into a digital TV in the future?

MOORHEAD: The short answer is yes. In fact, there are dumb processors already inside digital TVs. They are just not able to handle large data sets at this time. We do expect in the coming years those processors inside will become more robust, and we will be prepared to take advantage of that.

Today, a digital TV is primarily focused on the decode on the video. What you are seeing more now are TV capabilities coming into PCs and consumer-electronics devices. You are seeing more data-intensive applications appearing as well. We're prepared to address the market wherever it goes.

CRN: I think the question many people in the channel will want to know is if AMD will make its own motherboards as a result of the ATI acquisition.

MOORHEAD: I can definitively say no. It really doesn't add anything more to the equation over and above the two companies coming together.

CRN: If you're not going to be making motherboards, could you explain how you think owning the chipset will further AMD's stable image program?

MOORHEAD: There are a lot of steps in creating a stable image platform. But the primary piece is making sure that the drivers are consistent and they don't change. Technically, that is between the CPU, the chipset, the south bridge, or any audio or video processing that goes on.

So you can imagine now, with the combined forces of the companies, we will have super-tight team integration with the design, the validation, the development of the firmware and the development of the software that goes along with that.

CRN: On the mobile side, why do you think being able to make a chipset for notebook PCs is important?

MOORHEAD: Mobile PCs are more integrated than desktops. When you look at our ability to more tightly integrate the design, validation, firmware and software tools, it leads to a much better stable image platform. That's what this is all about.

One point I will make, too, is that ATI is actually a leader in discrete notebook GPUs, with 70 percent market share. We think that speaks volumes.