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How AMD CEO Lisa Su Plans To Keep The Pressure On Intel, Nvidia

In an extensive interview with CRN, AMD’s CEO talks about how the company plans to keep the heat on Intel and Nvidia, how the $35 billion Xilinx acquisition will make it more relevant in the data center and where the company stands with component supply and software support.

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I've done a lot of reporting on Intel's partner programs over the last few years. I've also learned more about what Nvidia is doing on the partner program side. From my research and talking to partners, you definitely get a sense that they're both very comprehensive programs. And my sense is that AMD is definitely getting there, but it's not fully where it could be. Do you think that AMD will need to build a more comprehensive partner program to embrace the channel?

I think we’re growing by leaps and bounds in the channel. Now if you look historically, our larger relationships have been in the consumer channel, so sort of in the DIY space, across the world in the desktop as well as the graphics cards. And that’s now expanding to the commercial channel, both commercial PCs as well as more commercial server-type opportunities. I think it’s a large growth opportunity. We’ll continue to invest in that area, our partner program. Our virtual partner event [this year] had over 2,500 attendees. We’re scaling that by leaps and bounds every year. And so yes, I think our goal is to build out that partner program and [I] agree that on the commercial side, we’re less known today, but hopefully as people see the strength of the product and the strength of the portfolio, we’ll be able to grow those programs quite quickly over the next few years.

Are there any big changes coming to AMD’s channel strategy?

I think there are changes in terms of just more investments. As we look at these things, there are inflection points in terms of where we focus, and the portfolio is just so strong right now. When we look at the platforms that we have on the PC side, it’s the broadest set of commercial PC platforms we’ve ever had. [I’m] very, very excited about what we’re doing around Ryzen 4000 on the notebook side and then some new platforms to launch. And similarly, on the server side, as we launch our next-generation [EPYC] Milan platforms, you’ll see the broadest set of platforms. So the time is now to invest because the platform coverage is so strong.

One thing I've talked to partners about is the Xilinx acquisition. I think there is maybe a little bit of a concern that the acquisition will distract AMD from the current focus that has allowed the company to succeed in the last few years. And so my question is, what will you do to ensure that AMD can stay on its current path, while also investing resources in important areas like the partner program?

I actually don’t worry about that much. I think we’ve built a very strong execution engine for the past six years. We’re absolutely committed to our road maps and to our customers, and that’s not going to change. Frankly, what Xilinx brings actually makes us stronger. It’ll make us stronger from an R&D standpoint and stronger from a general portfolio standpoint because there are a lot of commercial markets that they have presence in [where] we actually don’t have presence today. They actually have a pretty strong channel business of their own. So I don’t see that it will in any way change what we do. If anything, my hope is that it will accelerate our relevance to a broad customer set with just the breadth of the portfolio.

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