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AMD’s Executive Vice President, Henri Richard
Rahul Sood, President of VoodooPC and active Blogger, had a few minutes with AMD's Executive VP over the weekend. Henri Richard answers our questions and then some

Please feel free to visit Rahul's blog at http://voodoopc.blogspot.com/

As AMD’s Executive Vice President and Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Henri Richard knows every last detail of AMD's business. Originally from France, he is a self-proclaimed tech geek, builds his own systems and is an avid gamer.  He has endless energy and is described as one of the hardest working people at AMD.  He is a global traveler and understands all aspects of semi-conductor global market trends and regional needs.

There’s no denying that his love for technology and finer things has had a very positive impact on AMD’s business over the past few years.  Richard has been a key part of AMD's unprecedented business transformation, set in motion by Hector Ruiz to restructure AMD to better focus on customers, 64-bit x86 innovations, and high-growth and emerging markets. Henri Richard has been crucial in helping AMD grow into a market and technological leader and how to act like one.

I wrote this interview because it's not often that I can offer first hand insight to how some of our partners operate.  I usually take time to discuss the latest technology with all of our partners, so I thought it would be interesting to share some of the dialog we had with AMD recently. I had a chance to sit down with Henri Richard to discuss the latest happenings at AMD.

Sood: It’s pretty impressive when one of the top executives at AMD is capable of building his own PC.  What are the specs of your system that you’re currently running at home right now?

Richard: The first PC I ever built was a Sinclair! I guess it shows my age. I like to personally evaluate the technology in the market and thus I refresh all of my machines (I keep about eight systems running) on a quarterly basis. My current standard system is based on our FX or Opteron CPUs, on x32 NVIDIA based motherboards, with no less than 2 GB of RAM, Raid 0 with two or more Western Digital Raptor drives and SLI video technology.

Sood: Which game got you into computer gaming to begin with and what about it drew you in?

Richard: I started with Microsoft Flight Simulator and actually own every single release of this title. I enjoyed the ability that it provided to familiarize oneself with flying on instruments, something you typically can’t do without a large budget in the real world. I then went from Flight Sim to Combat Sim and then to FPS. The real passion came with online multiplayer mode. It’s really a lot of fun to be able to compete with thousands of people around the world. Being in sales, you can imagine that I am a reasonably competitive individual.

Sood: Many years ago AMD was considered a lower-priced alternative to Intel, and since the launch of the AMD Athlon 64 we have seen a shift in your brand position.  This was never more apparent then when AMD launched its AMD Athlon 64 X2 dual-core processors.  In what seemed as an obvious effort to thwart AMD sales, Intel dropped its own prices by 50%, yet AMD didn’t budge. Are your retailers starting to see the light?

Richard: We have made huge progress in two dimensions: brand equity and brand consideration.  Of course, we offer a better value than the competition across all the various segments, so we are the smarter choice.  But we also have become the better choice, thanks to a clearly superior technology. This is reflected in our retail market share which keeps climbing, particularly in the dual-core segment where the competition offers a clearly inferior product.

Sood: Not surprisingly AMD’s implementation of dual-core has been very successful. To what do you attribute the success of the product?

Richard: The Athlon 64 X2 is the result of an architecture that started from the ground up as a multi-core architecture. The competition is trying to patch an obsolete architecture with huge caches.  But in fact, they can’t overcome the bottleneck of the front side bus and the memory latency performance disadvantage. And frankly, their power envelope is completely out of control. That’s becoming a key factor of success for AMD64.

Sood: I have watched with great interest as AMD’s stock price has continued to rise throughout 2005 and into 2006.  How does it feel to have the fruits of your labor finally pay off? 

Richard: Well, we are happy but not satisfied. Our quest is all about bringing choice and balance to the marketplace. No one needs or wants a market dominated by a monopolist holding 90% of the volumes, revenue or profits of an industry. It’s unhealthy and clearly it stifles innovation. So until we bring the industry in balance, I won’t be satisfied. Of course, the fruits of success are there, but it’s not what gets me up in the morning. I want to be able to say that I helped the PC business to break free!

Sood: Intel has been plopping a ton of money in their VIIV launch, yet many of their customers, including Voodoo, don’t understand what it is all about.  What do you think about what Intel is trying to accomplish with VIIV, and what are AMD’s future plans around AMD LIVE! to compete against it?

Richard: This is fairly fresh but it seems to me that VIIV is nothing more than a Media Center Edition PC with a new logo at this stage. Long term, the competition is attempting to create a closed environment, where they capture most of the profit and where they displace with a VIIV PC the incumbent devices in your living room. We prefer to think that an open platform, where the PC is a senior member of your home network of devices, all collaborating and interacting with each other is preferable. That’s the AMD Live! concept. And true to our partnership strategy, everyone will be able to collaborate and add value to the AMD Live! platform.

Sood: From what I have seen AMD Opteron is untouchable on the server and workstation space.  How successful has the AMD Opteron been since it launched in 2003 and where is Opteron going for 2006 and beyond?

Richard: The Opteron processor has redefined the notion of performance-per-watt in the server space. And it continues to gain market share as more and more customers move away from the competition’s products, which have both performance and power consumption problems. Going forward, we will continuously add RAS features to the platform while leveraging the AMD64 architecture advantage, which actually increases with the number of cores or the number of sockets.

Sood: It seems that the media is pretty excited about Intel’s “Conroe” core.  How does AMD plan to keep their lead in the desktop space?

Richard: Well, it seems bizarre to me that we are seen as keeping a lead in the server space for at least another two years and at the same time questioned about our lead in desktop. I see a lot of speculation about the competition, comparing what they will launch in three quarters to what we have today. But that assumes we are going to stand still, and that’s not the case.

Sood: What’s it like to run a company the size of AMD, how do you stay ahead of the competition?

Richard: We are small compared to our competition. So my motto is that unless I am willing to work harder, longer and smarter than the competition, I can’t even the odds. Our size allows us to be more friendly, more nimble and more personable, and customers really appreciate this. But ultimately, it’s our integrity and dedication to our customer’s success that is our enduring differentiation.

Sood: Emerging high-growth markets are a relatively new strategic area for AMD, given the company’s 37-year history.  Can you briefly explain why this is important to AMD and what you believe the future holds for AMD in these markets?

Richard: Besides their growth potential, these markets are attractive because, unlike mature markets, they are typically more open to competition. Local players want to offer choice, governments are more involved in the development of the IT business, and consumers and businesses are equally keen to make the smarter choice as the average budget for IT spending is smaller than in mature markets. For all these reasons, AMD is thriving in these markets and I believe that we have the opportunity to be a leader in bringing IT technology to these countries. Our 50x15 and OLPC (One Laptop per Child) initiatives are great examples of the role responsible IT companies can and must play in bridging the digital divide and in bringing innovation that matters to these markets.

Sood: What are the current tech gadgets you are using right now?

Richard: Right now, I am regularly using the new XBOX 360, the Motorola RAZR, Apple’s iPod, and of course my BlackBerry.



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What is an executive vice president?
By ted61 on 1/21/2006 12:14:01 AM , Rating: 3
Good article. It is nice to see some plain old questions and answers for a change.

You could have asked him what an executive vp does? I wonder if he is the vp of the executives.

I think if I were an executive of AMD, I would be gloating a little after I took the technology lead.




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