AMD shakes up Radeon biz, gives Koduri full responsibility

Big changes are happening at AMD. For the first time since its acquisition of ATI nine years ago, the company has given responsibility for its graphics business to a single leader. The firm today announced that it has promoted Raja Koduri to senior vice president and chief architect of the Radeon Technologies Group.

The newly formed Radeon Technologies Group will be responsible for the graphics technology used in discrete GPUs, APUs, and semi-custom products like the chips used in the Xbox and Playstation. In his new role, Koduri will oversee everything from hardware and software development to product management, marketing, and developer relations.

With Koduri at the helm, AMD's graphics business will be run by a software engineer with 20 years of experience in graphics. Koduri returned to AMD in 2013 after a stint at Apple, where he was involved in the transition to Retina displays. Prior to that, he served as CTO of the Product Graphics Group at AMD. Earlier, at ATI, Koduri guided the development of the first CrossFire multi-GPU load-balancing mechanism, and at S3, and he created the texture compression method that became known as DXTC.

Since returning to AMD, Koduri has quietly been hiring a number of smart graphics engineers, like Timothy Lottes, formerly of Epic and Nvidia, where he developed the FXAA and TXAA algorithms. Koduri has also spearheaded AMD's LiquidVR initiative, preparing the firm to compete in the virtual and augmented reality markets.

CEO Lisa Su expressed a desire to make AMD's graphics business more "agile" and "vertically integrated" with this move. Dr. Su also cited a goal winning back lost market share in graphics.

That last goal is especially important given the fact that recent analyst reports have pegged AMD's share of the discrete GPU market at just under 20%. The firm's share has declined from roughly 40% of the discrete GPU market several years ago.

During that span, AMD has only released a few new discrete graphics chips; its chief competitor, Nvidia, has refreshed its lineup from top to bottom in the past 12 months.

The Radeon business also struggled due to a strange confluence of events over the past couple of years. A GPU shortage caused by an explosion of demand from cryptocurrency miners kept the Radeon R9 290 and 290X out of the hands of PC gamers for months after their introduction. Not long after the crypto-mining bubble burst and the smoke cleared, Nvidia introduced its GM204 chips, including the attractively priced GeForce GTX 970 for $336. Strangely, AMD waited nearly six months before officially cutting prices in response. By then, the market share shift was well underway.

No doubt some of today's changes were prompted by AMD's recent graphics market share struggles. The center of gravity for AMD's graphics business will shift to the company's headquarters in Sunnyvale, California. According to a source familiar with the matter, long-time ATI and AMD executive Matt Skynner will be leaving the company. Skynner had previously been the corporate vice president and GM of products for AMD's Client and Graphics Group. The responsibility for AMD's software and content development efforts will now fall under Koduri's authority.

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