Radeon honcho Raja Koduri takes leave of absence

Raja Koduri, the senior vice president and chief architect of AMD's Radeon Technologies Group, is taking an extended leave of absence from the company. As first reported by Fudzilla and confirmed in a follow-up by PC Perspective, Koduri will be taking the majority of the fourth quarter of 2017 off "to spend time with [his] family." According to the internal email that PC Perspective obtained, Koduri will begin his leave on September 25 and return sometime in December. AMD CEO Lisa Su will be taking over the captain's chair in Koduri's stead. We've asked AMD for comment and we'll update this article if we hear back.

In his email, Koduri says he "used up a lot of family credits" in bringing Vega to market, that he had been "contemplating [this leave] for a while now," and notes that "there was never a good time to do this." The fourth quarter of 2017 will apparently be a quiet one for the Radeon Technologies Group, so it would seem Koduri and AMD's executive team felt this was the least-worst time for him to restore his familial credit score. Given the complexity of the Vega GPU and the challenges involved in launching its various implementations, we have little doubt that Koduri could do with some R&R.

Although his email clearly states the rationale for this move, some will inevitably question Koduri's future with AMD in light of the drawn-out and turbulent launch of Vega products. There's always the possibility of a shake-up in boardroom dealings like these, but we see little room for that in Koduri's message. The RTG honcho does say he'll be rebalancing his responsibilities upon his return in December, but that could be as much a sign of a burgeoning division with many mouths to feed as it could be of anything else. Koduri's letter promises "product excitement" in 2018, so we look forward to learning more upon his return.

Comments closed
    • ronch
    • 2 years ago

    I dunno ’bout you folks, but it seems to me AMD isn’t very happy with Koduri these days. It’s no secret that AMD’s graphics offerings these days just aren’t very compelling, and I’m saying this as an AMD fan, as many of you here are probably aware of. Even the RX480, which was probably the most compelling of AMD’s recent releases, was dogged by the 6-pin/8-pin power issue. You’d think decades and countless generations of making 3D graphics cards would’ve made that one of the first checkboxes of graphics card design. Yes it was fixed, but you can bet Lisa wasn’t very happy with that.

    • willyolioleo
    • 2 years ago

    well, when a product is delayed this much, i doubt anyone at RTG had room to slack. And they still don’t have 100% of the Vega features up and running, as far as i’ve been told. Not surprised that Raja has to take a break.

    But the driver team… I’m thinking they’re still pulling in overtime hours. When will they get their break? I hope they get Vega’s primitve shaders and crossfire working first, though.

      • ermo
      • 2 years ago

      Do you mean the hardware features are there, but they aren’t used by drivers just yet or…?

    • odizzido
    • 2 years ago

    Family is pretty important I think. Most people in the developed world could use fewer hours working and more time with family and friends.

      • Anonymous Coward
      • 2 years ago

      I’m under the impression that people are working more hours as the years pass, not less. All these machines to help with our work, yet we work more.

        • Sahrin
        • 2 years ago

        Billionaires aren’t made by their workers working fewer hours.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 2 years ago

        we’re much more “available” to work these days because we willing walk around with an electronic tether in our pockets.

      • tipoo
      • 2 years ago

      Especially as every study shows a 40 hour workweek (and some work much more) is far from totally productive. If you get all your work done in 30 hours, it should be that you can do whatever you want with the rest, but corporate culture is hard to change.

      So companies get no productivity out of you staring slackjawed at a screen while your own health deteriorates while away from friends and family. Even if you buck being tired from that and go to the gym several times a week it’s not enough to reverse the effects of sitting eight hours a day.

      Too dark?

      Too dark.

        • LoneWolf15
        • 2 years ago

        Dark as it needs to be. But the people who govern it aren’t listening.

        (Read: Too many management philosophies, especially at the midlevel, equate results by showing how many hours their underlings worked, not what kind of product was achieved and at what quality level. So efforts are made to show more hours even if that doesn’t equate to higher quality output or even doesn’t improve things at all. `Cuz…metrics.)

        • derFunkenstein
        • 2 years ago

        If I lived in Maine I’d have access to an office with a gym, free cafeteria, and lots of other amenities. Then I never have to go home!

        The downside to all that is that I’d have to live in Maine…

    • smilingcrow
    • 2 years ago

    Maybe he’s gone in search of the mythical lost 500MB of Nvidia VRAM?

      • POLAR
      • 2 years ago

      That’s a feature

    • southrncomfortjm
    • 2 years ago

    I hear some upstart named Wasson is up for that job next.

      • chuckula
      • 2 years ago

      In the Game of [s<]Thrones[/s<] [u<]Graphics Cards[/u<] you win or you leave to spend more time with your family.

    • freebird
    • 2 years ago

    He twitted back on Aug. 30th about just getting back from a 2 week vacation to India & also visiting AMD’s R&D sites there in Hyderabad and Bangalore…

    So it could mean things are going good in R&D in India; or bad and he won’t be back.

    I’m leaning towards he will be back, but we will see in December won’t we?

    Maybe a skunkworks team in India built a super duper crypto-mining card and he is going back to India to setup a mining operation 😉

    • ptsant
    • 2 years ago

    I’ve been downvoted in this forum for saying that Koduri should be fired, even before the Vega fiasco.

    I don’t know what is his part of responsibility, how much he did and could have done. Maybe his mission was impossible.

    Anyway, I have to acknowledge that the drivers, especially the linux ones, have gone from OK to really good. I also am really fond of my undervolted RX480, which I got at a reasonable pre-mining price. The ROCm initiative for deep learning has also progressed enormously.

    Other things were really not great. The RX580 rebadge. The default power-hungry Vega RX profile. In fact, everything Vega RX is simply underwhelming. And the failure to capitalize on the domination of the console market. I mean there was supposed to be developer interest, synergies, additional visibility and all that.

    Let’s hope that with the money coming from Zen they will be able to improve the RTG and find a competent leader. Su seems to be doing a good job, otherwise.

      • LostCat
      • 2 years ago

      You do remember that the 480 lost its PCI Express certification? That rebadge made perfect sense to me as such. They probably tweaked the hardware enough to get the cert back to sell to more OEMs.

        • ptsant
        • 2 years ago

        The PCIe slot power excess only concerned the reference cards in the first place and was fixed with a slight driver modification. By clicking a button you can force the (reference) card in compliant mode.

        There really was no need for the 580 rebadge just to fix this issue. The rebadge was pure marketing.

    • tipoo
    • 2 years ago

    In all seriousness, working engineering overtime for three or four years to put out a product, a competitor spending 3.5x the R&D on theirs, and then having yours mostly pooped on by the press and public, must be a hard cycle on you. It’s the reality with any consumer good and especially high tech ones I suppose, but must be hard.

    • USAFTW
    • 2 years ago

    Hmmm… I wonder if there will be an extension to the extended leave of absence.
    In all seriousness though, I have seen nothing from RTG since Raja took over that would lead me to keep him. Aside from the Hawaii GPUs, it has been getting more mediocre with every release. Hawaii was area efficient and beat big Kepler convincingly (GK110), albeit with much more heat. Tonga, Fiji, Polaris and Vega have all been dismal failures in my book. Before that, we had RV770, Cypress, Cayman, and Tahiti; all great designs and very competitive with Nvidia.

      • swaaye
      • 2 years ago

      Considering NVidia has more R&D resources than ever, yeah I don’t know about the future of AMD competitiveness.

        • tipoo
        • 2 years ago

        They’re dropping three billion on each new uArch nowadays, while I don’t think AMD is cracking the big B.

      • brucethemoose
      • 2 years ago

      That bit about devoting a ton of die space to clockspeeds in Vega was especially worrying…

      I mean, Raja is the guy who makes those high level calls, right? Has he never heard of Prescott or Bulldozer? Wasn’t he aware of the imbalances in Fiji’s core config?

        • USAFTW
        • 2 years ago

        I found it astonishing that the increased clock speed cost them most of the additional 5.5 billion transistors on top of Fiji. It looks to me like they’ve been kicking the can down the road; essentially doing a few tweaks here and there, while refusing to address the fundamental deficiencies of GCN: efficiency and scaling.

      • Mat3
      • 2 years ago

      Polaris wasn’t great but it wasn’t bad at all. It competes quite well against the 1060 and if AMD was more willing to sacrifice a small amount of performance, they could do it at nearly the same power consumption too. Probably the sales and marketing guys are the ones responsible for pushing the 580 and Vega way, way past their sweet spots for clock speeds and ramping up power consumption to absurd levels.

      Vega’s per clock performance is only slightly improved over Fiji, and was no better than Polaris over Tonga. That means that performance per clock on Vega is no better than Polaris whatsoever (maybe even regressed). They made no improvements there, despite the L2 cache doubling, primitive shaders, DSBR, intelligent workload distributor and any other buzzwords they threw at us in the Vega marketing slides. AMD needs to do a whole lot of work outside the shader cores (Vega 56 and 64 performance is practically the same at same clock speeds, so more evidence of a serious bottleneck outside the shader cores). They need to get those features working pronto.

    • DeadOfKnight
    • 2 years ago

    Now he will have time to read all those emails from Nvidia offering him a better job.

      • USAFTW
      • 2 years ago

      Honestly, what has Nvidia to gain from him? Other than R300, I haven’t seen anything special from him at AMD. Obviously, I’m only looking at the products delivered during his tenure, but what more does one need?

        • DeadOfKnight
        • 2 years ago

        I’m sure he’s still more qualified than most of the engineers over at Nvidia, and it appears he did some great things over at Apple.

        You could have Tom Brady on your high school football team, but that doesn’t mean the whole team will become winners.

          • tipoo
          • 2 years ago

          I’m sure Apple itself is still sucking up all the GPU talent it can, too

    • chuckula
    • 2 years ago

    [quote<], Koduri will be taking the majority of the fourth quarter of 2017 off "to spend time with [his] family." [/quote<] THAT'S CODE. I also want to see an announcement of some corporate type getting a promotion where he says that he's looking forward to spending less time with his family.

      • rudimentary_lathe
      • 2 years ago

      Yeah, the “spending time with family” line is often code for something entirely different.

      Given the reception of VEGA, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a shake-up at RTG. They really dropped the ball – or failed to pick up the ball – with the ongoing high power requirements.

      • Cuhulin
      • 2 years ago

      Without question, the “spending time with family” statement often is code, but not always – sometimes, a leave of absence or an extended vacation or a sabattical is needed after a project is delivered. People come back refreshed for the next project.

      The fact that this is a time-limited break suggests that this may well be one of the real “time out” breaks. We’ll just need to see.

      • Voldenuit
      • 2 years ago

      “If I am elected, I vow to spend less time with my family and more money on hookers and blow”.

        • Neutronbeam
        • 2 years ago

        I am SO hanging with you at the next TR BBQ–in Vegas, baby!

        • jihadjoe
        • 2 years ago

        Mayor Ford, is that you?

        • maxxcool
        • 2 years ago

        Need a VP ? I can be like the Jimmy Carter for hookers!

      • tay
      • 2 years ago

      Good riddance. “Wait for Vega”…

      • davidbowser
      • 2 years ago

      The last time it happened at a company I worked, the VP taking the family break came back just long enough to announce his replacement. It was a pretty significant personality change and there was a non-trivial exodus of people (including me) within a few months.

      Prediction/guess – this announcement was part of a payoff/non-compete that we will understand more clearly in 6-12 months when he joins another company.

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