Hector Ruiz's New Book

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Hector Ruiz's New Book

Postposted on Tue May 07, 2013 12:38 pm

Hey guys.. Hector Ruiz has been getting quite a bit of attention lately because of his book 'Slingshot', where he talks about his story at AMD. And it got me thinking a little bit. Not many people remember Hector's tenure at AMD fondly but is he really as bad as he seems? Why would he write a book about Intel's misconducts? Is it just because he's bored and has nothing else to do? Or is it because he feels like his tenure at AMD has some loose ends and he wants to wrap them up? Perhaps Hector truly cared about AMD and is going back to take a stab at Intel? Did the ATIC deal force him to join GF and leave AMD so that AMD can sell its fabs and live another day, which means he sacrificed his AMD CEO position for AMD itself? Discuss.
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Re: Hector Ruiz's New Book

Postposted on Tue May 07, 2013 1:25 pm

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Re: Hector Ruiz's New Book

Postposted on Tue May 07, 2013 1:25 pm

Am I the only one who really hates it when people end their statements with "discuss"?
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Re: Hector Ruiz's New Book

Postposted on Tue May 07, 2013 1:38 pm

BoBzeBuilder wrote:Am I the only one who really hates it when people end their statements with "discuss"?


BoBzeBuilder hates statements that end with "discuss". Discuss.
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Re: Hector Ruiz's New Book

Postposted on Tue May 07, 2013 3:31 pm

ronch wrote:Hey guys.. Hector Ruiz has been getting quite a bit of attention lately because of his book 'Slingshot', where he talks about his story at AMD. And it got me thinking a little bit. Not many people remember Hector's tenure at AMD fondly but is he really as bad as he seems? Why would he write a book about Intel's misconducts? Is it just because he's bored and has nothing else to do? Or is it because he feels like his tenure at AMD has some loose ends and he wants to wrap them up? Perhaps Hector truly cared about AMD and is going back to take a stab at Intel? Did the ATIC deal force him to join GF and leave AMD so that AMD can sell its fabs and live another day, which means he sacrificed his AMD CEO position for AMD itself? Discuss.


The problem is Hector Ruiz screwing up AMD is the first chips division or company he screwed up. He did the same for SPS/Freescale and if you look at what he did with AMD it has a number of parallels.
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Re: Hector Ruiz's New Book

Postposted on Tue May 07, 2013 6:15 pm

I just got this book, and will hopefully read through it soon. My currently uninformed opinion is that criticizing Ruiz is like criticizing an olympic figure skater or gymnast--you can make valid criticisms of their performance, of things he did bad (or just not good enough), but for sure his job was tough as hell. I personally couldn't do better, nor do I believe most people reading this could.
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Re: Hector Ruiz's New Book

Postposted on Tue May 07, 2013 6:32 pm

If Ars Technica is right about this, most of Ruiz's problems really go back to co-founder Jerry Sanders and the financial mess he left once Ruiz was installed as CEO. Ruiz did make mistakes (overpaying for ATi is the big one for me), but he did the best he could. Perhaps the real lesson is to never truly wake a sleeping giant (i.e. Intel) and expect no payback.
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Re: Hector Ruiz's New Book

Postposted on Wed May 08, 2013 10:13 am

I read the first few pages of the book at Amazon.com and what kinda raises my eyebrows here is when he says they assembled a group of highly talented people to make a superior product. Ok, here's the thing: Hector became CEO in 2002 and at that time, the Athlon 64 was almost complete and he only needed to polish it a little bit and sell it. Of course along the way they needed to keep tweaking it and making it faster and faster, making it support DDR2, etc., but that wasn't what made AMD fall behind, barring Intel's shady business practices. Whatever he meant by assembling a team and setting out to make a superior product would probably refer to Barcelona because K8 wasn't really his project. And Barcelona was when things started to go downhill.

The thing is, Barcelona was designed entirely on his watch, presumably from around 2002 (if not later) to 2007, and that's when it became apparent that AMD became a bit too confident and thought Intel cannot best its superior architecture. The groundwork for Bulldozer was also decided and started on his watch, although many things could've happened after his resignation.

Then we have the ATI acquisition which encountered a lot of hurdles and upper management just bought ATI without really making sure both the AMD side and ATI side really mixed well together. AMDers were AMDers and ATI folks were ATI folks. The two companies just didn't mix together easily and the AMDers didn't have much of a clue as to what the ATIers were doing as long as both camps were churning out products. So this is another thing under Hector's leadership.

Lastly, about the lawsuits... While I wouldn't take it against Hector dragging Intel into a huge lawsuit across the globe, I'd imagine doing so was a bit short sighted. Intel will always play its cards unfairly, being the big guy with the huge advantage in terms of finances. Does anybody really think Intel will play fair after the verdict? Of course not. Can AMD launch another investigation into Intel's business practices today? Not a chance given their current bank balance. And how much did AMD get? A paltry 1.2B, IIRC.

See, the lawsuits took a serious toll on AMD's resources. It took their eyes off the ball. It's one thing to sue your competitor for unfair practices when you have the superior product and you suspect your competitor is paying off your partners to ditch you, but to take your eyes off the ball and create a lackluster product is quite another thing. Fast forward to 2007 - can AMD still blame Intel for poor Phenom sales? And now, can AMD blame Intel for poor FX sales? Is it because of shady marketing practices again, perhaps paying off reviewers to give bad reviews of AMD's products? It's hard to launch another investigation but I'd imagine the reviews show Bulldozer for what it is. And what it is was decided back when Hector was in charge.
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Re: Hector Ruiz's New Book

Postposted on Wed May 08, 2013 11:20 am

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Re: Hector Ruiz's New Book

Postposted on Wed May 08, 2013 1:06 pm

Yes, Intel is 10X AMD's size and AMD's chances are slim. However, that chance gets slimmer one you fumble your products. The Phenom was late and had a bug. Those things were beyond Intel's control despite having 10X the resources. Of course this is the way things go in the CPU business but AMD had control over it. When you compete with a huge competitor such as Intel, there is no room for mistakes. And AMD knows this.

As for ATI being the savior of AMD today... that's really open for debate. They spent more than $5B on ATI but I'm not sure that investment is really paying off. Compared to the GPU business AMD is still making more money on the CPU side of things and their APUs aren't really expensive either. They may make it up with volume though. However, when you factor in AMD's early struggles to make APUs (Swift and earlier attempts) work and the budget they spent on it with the ATI purchase, their GPU/APU tech ends up costing more than the money they spent to buy ATI. Of course there are the console deals but we're not sure how those will affect AMD's balance sheet yet. However, I wonder, with $5B couldn't AMD just have started their own GPU development? $5B is a lot of money to spend on R&D, especially without the burden of running their fab after the spinoff. Part of that can also be spent to make Bulldozer a better product, thereby allowing AMD to price FX CPUs more profitably and maintain brand recognition and value.

Hector's involvement and contribution to put AMD inside servers cannot be overlooked, and there, I believe, is where his contribution to AMD really lies.

As for the legal battle with Intel, if you limit the discussion to the x86 industry, yes, fighting Intel in court may be a good idea to loosen things up a bit, but I can't imagine the x86 industry being a lot better. It may have allowed OEMs to use AMD chips more freely, yes, but that's about it. Nobody can enter the x86 industry no matter what AMD does anyway. In the end, it's still just Intel and AMD. The moment AMD shoots itself in the foot (something that's not very difficult to imagine) the ball immediately goes back to Intel and AMD inevitably gets into a difficult position.

I'm saying this because early on AMD could have looked beyond x86 the way they are doing now. If they had the vision to go beyond x86 and see how mobile devices are exploding into the scene, they wouldn't have sold off their IP to Qualcomm and instead probably allocated more R&D to fund their mobile efforts. This of course is bolstered by their ATI purchase had they not sold the IP, but again, what if they, instead of fighting a difficult battle with Intel, chose to focus somewhere else? Or what if they didn't buy ATI and developed graphics and mobile technologies in-house with that $5B?

As for this:

it was handled by the legal department, no engineers were pulled from engineering duties to begin practicing law


Yes, no engineer was pulled from his job and suddenly made to write demand letters and other legal documents, but it sure took the CEO's attention. CEOs need to focus on all areas and plot the direction of the company, which is mainly towards profitability. Hector chose the path of dragging Intel to the courts and exposing their misconducts in the hopes of being able to compete more fairly in the x86 industry. Unfortunately, it just didn't pan out. AMD did get $1.2B but does Intel compete fairly now that they lost the case? I doubt it.

In the end, the numbers speak for themselves. Hector had a very difficult job and he did everything he could and for that I give him credit. It's just that he could've done things a lot differently and focused on growth areas instead of really getting into a legal bloodbath with Intel. Here's hoping the gambles he took will pay off someday though.
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Re: Hector Ruiz's New Book

Postposted on Wed May 08, 2013 1:12 pm

Great figures are often haunted by their former shadows. Discuss.
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Re: Hector Ruiz's New Book

Postposted on Wed May 08, 2013 8:52 pm

uni-mitation wrote:Great figures are often haunted by their former shadows. Discuss.


Sad but generally true . . . . especially if the shadow was a co-founder of the company.
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Re: Hector Ruiz's New Book

Postposted on Wed May 08, 2013 9:20 pm

His faults... an ordinary man paid like a world class CEO. An impostor.

He just never was CEO material.

So AMD digged itself a nice little hole under his 'command'.
And Dirk finished the job. He also wasn't CEO material by far (what was the board thinking??). He had no a clue or understanding of the world computing market.

Read got an easier task, that doesn't require any foresight, he just need to fix past mistakes... clear & dry
But when this his done, I dont think he got what it takes to push AMD to the next level as a CEO.
Nvidia, for example, in Reads hands would wither to nothingness and irrelevancy....

AMD is far from being a first rate American corporation... not from its engineering side, but from the board + directors.

AMD might be down on the ground, moaning in pain, but its tits are still full of bored cash that feed the management with bonuses, and million $ cash salaries.

When AMD realize that this beast we knew as ATI need love, not drained of its blood.. the cash cow AMD can be might live on...
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edit: I will let the reader imagine if the two man in the picture are Ruiz & Dirk on top of AMD, or just two blood hungry tribesman.
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Re: Hector Ruiz's New Book

Postposted on Wed May 08, 2013 10:56 pm

Ok, here are the things I THINK Hector did right:

- Peddled AMD into servers. Not very hard considering they had superior CPU technology. The product sold itself.

- Acquired ATI and got their graphics and chipset IP.

- Sold the fabs (no more huge capex).

- Dragged Intel to the courts and exposed them for their misconduct.

And here's where I THINK he screwed up:

- Given their freedom to spend more from 2003 - 2006 (due to the success of the K8), they still failed to make the right tradeoffs with Barcelona and Bulldozer.

- Sold the fabs (no more complete control over process tech) and being forced to make certain arrangements with ATIC/GF that will cause them lots of 'one time charges' later on.

- Overpaid for ATI.

- Didn't succeed in melding the two companies more effectively.

- Delays in their Fusion projects.

- Failed to see where the market is going. Concentrated too much on PC CPUs and overlooked mobile trends.

Can you add more to this list? Of course. It's by no means an extensive one.
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Re: Hector Ruiz's New Book

Postposted on Wed May 08, 2013 11:03 pm

So wait... according to you selling the fabs and acquiring ATI fall into both the "got it right" and "screwed it up" columns?
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Re: Hector Ruiz's New Book

Postposted on Wed May 08, 2013 11:05 pm

Here's a weird photo of Hector holding a wafer. Funny how they didn't consider his reflection on it.

And here's when things were still rockin' for AMD.
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Re: Hector Ruiz's New Book

Postposted on Wed May 08, 2013 11:08 pm

@JBI:

The idea of acquiring ATI was sound because with it AMD will acquire lots of valuable IP. That's the cool part. Problem is, they overpaid for it (placing AMD into a deeper hole) and didn't take full advantage of the benefits of such an acquisition.

As for selling off the fabs, the deals with ATIC were ultimately damaging to AMD later on, as we all are seeing these days with those 'one time charges'. It also left them with less control over the fabrication process. By the way, did they get a good price for their fabs?

On the good side, they didn't have to run their fabs and spend billions on it anymore. And fab capacity was shared with other fabless companies.
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Re: Hector Ruiz's New Book

Postposted on Wed May 08, 2013 11:16 pm

Memorable Moments in AMD's Colorful History

Here's Jensen Huang telling Hector, "If you loonies don't make me CEO of the combined company, the deal is off!"

Image]

Well, at least Barcleona ended up 40% faster than Clovertown, at least that's what Randy Allen said.

Image

Being AMD's CEO is such a tough, tough job!!! Sob!

Image

LOL
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Re: Hector Ruiz's New Book

Postposted on Thu May 09, 2013 12:19 am

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Re: Hector Ruiz's New Book

Postposted on Thu May 09, 2013 4:03 am

@Clone:

Intel during "the dark time" made a huge number of mistakes that were discussed because they were in 2nd, choosing Rambus, the 810 chipset disaster, the P3 1133 recall, the original P4 and all that followed, disappointments all to varying degree's.

AMD's habit of being late with every cpu update got ignored, when AMD botched The XP launch it was ok because history views the victor and the loser differently.... to say "they shouldn't have made mistakes" is easy, the hard part is not making them as proven by Intel & AMD.


I'm not sure what you're getting at, but I'll try to understand your point.

Like you, I've been following the chip industry closely for the majority of my years and I know how things go, at least from the view of an outsider who doesn't work for Intel or AMD. And so, I know this business is fraught with risk. Pour a ton of cash into R&D and then five years later you'll find out if you made the right bets or you shot yourself in the foot.

Fact is, it's no secret that AMD shot itself in the foot too many times. It's one thing to be 10x smaller than your competitor, but if David shot himself in the foot with his slingshot too many times there's just no way he can win the fight. I'm not saying Hector could have avoided all the foot-shooting here, but somebody's got to be accountable. In one of Hector's videos I saw on Youtube, it was Mr. Ruiz himself who said it's the top people within an organization that ultimately has to take responsibility for what goes on. Well, it's quite fair to hold him to his word, isn't it?

Thing is, nobody is ignoring AMD's missteps the same way nobody is ignoring Intel's mistakes. You do something wrong in this industry and you attract attention and pay the price. And it's not just Intel or AMD that are subject to this. As a matter of fact, countless articles have placed AMD in the limelight and talked about how AMD fouled up or did things right. Same thing with Intel. The difference is that there were times when people were willing to grant AMD some leniency due to their limited resources compared to the big 800-lb. gorilla, but their mistakes have nonetheless been brought to light just like Intel's mistakes were. Nobody's ignoring their foul ups. And being someone who's practically relied on AMD for most of his computing years, I certainly never ignore AMD's mistakes. I grant them some leniency, perhaps, just like many others out there do, but that's it.

regarding the ATI acquisition, AMD at the time was a cpu maker, no server business, dependent on 3rd party motherboard support, no gfx, not even audio.

Hector got AMD into server just in time, got AMD a complete platform just in time and had he not bought ATI when he did AMD would never had the opportunity, so where would AMD be now if they were still dependent on VIA for their motherboards and had no server revenue that only recently stopped coming in..... with no platform to offer they wouldn't be in all of the next generation consoles


Er, no. Back in 2006 it was true that AMD was only involved in making CPUs, but to say that they had no server business is simply wrong. In fact, if we go back and read this article, you'll recall that in 2006 AMD was already controlling 22% of the server market, and that's with no server platform to offer themselves and instead relying on third-party chipset vendors. That's a lot for a scrappy company that even Hector claims isn't making as much money as they possibly could due to Intel's crazy underhanded tactics. And VIA, well, to say it's a good thing that AMD is making their own chipsets today because VIA is such a scrappy company today is wrong. It was Intel's and AMD's decision to make their own chipsets that drove the likes of VIA and SiS into other areas of computing.

So who really made AMD enter the server business? Was it Hector? Or was it Jerry? Jerry tried to enter the server business as early as the K7 days. They first tried to make a name for themselves by targeting the enthusiast market (e.g. gamers) and attracting attention from the big guys later on. And it was Jerry who had the grand dream of gatecrashing Intel's 64-bit party and coming up with the K8. When he left AMD, K8 was almost done and Hector just had to finish it and peddle it. However, it was Hector's responsibility to chart what happens next for AMD after K8, and that was Barcelona, which wasn't really very competitive. Remember, back then AMD cannot ignore the importance of its CPU business. Acquiring ATI was a good move but they can't take their eyes off their CPU business. The ideas behind Bulldozer were also established during Hector's tenure as CEO. They went for high core count instead of high per-core IPC, a bet that proved to be destructive for AMD's current offerings.

The graphics and chipset IP acquired from ATI are different things, and have practically nothing to do with AMD's server market share except if you insist that they'll only be able to sell server CPUs if they bundle the chipset in as well. Obviously, that wasn't the case because AMD was riding high in the server market even before acquiring ATI.

As for graphics, it's starting to pay off these days but it sure is very late. It took AMD five years since acquiring ATI to come up with APU products. Of course, that wasn't all under Hector's watch, but still, the melding of the two companies could have been done more efficiently from the onset, which was during Hector's time as CEO. Anyway, when I said that they could have spent that $5B to develop their own graphics division, I'm not stating that as something they really should have done. It's a bit of speculation... a 'what if', if you may. Of course it's difficult to start a graphics powerhouse even with all the money in the world. Heck, Intel proves that.

the lawsuit was a job for the legal department, Hector gave the lawyers something to chew on and then asked for an occasional update, he did not believe it would fix all of AMD's woes, it's just something else that went on while Intel regained the lead.


Yes, but lawsuits cost money. Hector himself said (in the video above) that AMD's lawsuit against Intel was 'of biblical proportions'. It wasn't cheap, that's for sure. Of course, one could argue that it's probably nowhere near what AMD got from Intel in return ($1.2B) but AMD got that money way after Hector's watch so while the lawsuits are going on and the lawyer's bills were piling up, AMD needed to pay them up front, not when Intel finally paid them $1.2B. Part of what corporations do, I know, which leads me to our next paragraph....

"AMD should have looked outside of X86".... sure, maybe in the abstract they should have but to explore those options would have drained from existing operations, something you have already said was a bad idea, so what options was an X86 centric company supposed to explore? additionally you are asking AMD to see what was on the horizon that Intel didn't see, you are asking that AMD, a company that was earning 95% of it's revenue from X86 to invest in other avenues..... and this while competing with a corporation that has 10X's the resources AMD has?


Intel didn't see it. But TI, Nvidia, Qualcomm, Apple, Samsung, etc. saw it. Even Taiwanese MediaTek saw it and is now inside smartphones when AMD isn't. So to say that it was impossible for AMD to see it back then is being too lenient on AMD and its past management. This is what I was talking about when I said Hector's main role os charting AMD's direction. By the looks of the book Hector wrote, it seems like his main agenda was forcing Intel to play fair in the x86 industry through lawsuits. You know, to 'free an industry from the grips of Intel.' All this happened while the industry started to shift away without Intel and AMD.

was Hector Ruiz the best man for the job? no, was he terrible? no, did he do a decent job, I'm inclined to believe he did a decent job of leading AMD, Gerry Sanders left the mess, he crippled AMD just before he left, spend some time looking into it.


Look, I'm not hating Hector here. In fact, I have much respect for the man and you'd better believe it. What I'm doing here is analyzing what he has done, both good and bad, and speculating about what he could've done better. Nothing more. He was responsible for a company that has been no stranger to difficult times and he probably would have had a much easier life leading Motorola's division than running AMD. He took the challenge of running AMD and I applaud him for that. It's a VERY difficult job! Heck, running AMD is surely far more difficult than running Intel because AMD needs to make the most of what it has and keep on its toes with their eyes wide open for any opportunity that may come along while Intel can doze off in the sun, wake up, and use its money and talent to bash whoever woke it up by kicking sand in its face.
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Re: Hector Ruiz's New Book

Postposted on Thu May 09, 2013 8:25 am

OK. Enough about Hector and what he did or did not do. What should AMD do right now to be viable and competitive for the next decade?
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Re: Hector Ruiz's New Book

Postposted on Thu May 09, 2013 9:26 am

Make the FX series run at 10GHz to compensate for its lower IPC and keep it at 95w or less. :)
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Re: Hector Ruiz's New Book

Postposted on Thu May 09, 2013 10:14 am

ronch wrote:
"AMD should have looked outside of X86".... sure, maybe in the abstract they should have but to explore those options would have drained from existing operations, something you have already said was a bad idea, so what options was an X86 centric company supposed to explore? additionally you are asking AMD to see what was on the horizon that Intel didn't see, you are asking that AMD, a company that was earning 95% of it's revenue from X86 to invest in other avenues..... and this while competing with a corporation that has 10X's the resources AMD has?


Intel didn't see it. But TI, Nvidia, Qualcomm, Apple, Samsung, etc. saw it. Even Taiwanese MediaTek saw it and is now inside smartphones when AMD isn't. So to say that it was impossible for AMD to see it back then is being too lenient on AMD and its past management. This is what I was talking about when I said Hector's main role os charting AMD's direction. By the looks of the book Hector wrote, it seems like his main agenda was forcing Intel to play fair in the x86 industry through lawsuits. You know, to 'free an industry from the grips of Intel.' All this happened while the industry started to shift away without Intel and AMD.


You know Intel made ARM CPUs for some time and those CPUs were used in phones. However intel sold off it's ARM chips in 2006. I can only expect they were not making enough money on the division so it was sold.
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Re: Hector Ruiz's New Book

Postposted on Thu May 09, 2013 11:21 am

riviera74 wrote:OK. Enough about Hector and what he did or did not do. What should AMD do right now to be viable and competitive for the next decade?


Build great products. :D

More seriously, they need better drivers, and they need software to support their tech. Nvidia drivers are top notch, and Intel supports a lot of software projects. AMD needs to make sure it's chips are supported on their launch day.

AMD also needs network technology. There NICs, wireless NICs, and cellular modems, which AMD does not have a presence in. Intel can offer the complete package here, while AMD does not. Qualcomm and AMD might be a good fit for collaboration, or what not.

Those are the two areas I think they need to work on. There rest of the stuff will probably get mentioned (more IPC, less watts, custom chips, custom SOCs, etc.).
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Re: Hector Ruiz's New Book

Postposted on Thu May 09, 2013 12:36 pm

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