Future Tech

AMD's CFO Jean Hu talks CPUs, GPUs and the road ahead

Tan KW
Publish date: Fri, 24 May 2024, 09:34 PM
Tan KW
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Future Tech

Interview AMD claims it is touching 33 percent in server CPU market share as it looks towards the launch of its next-gen "Turin" processors, and is promising a GPU roadmap for what comes after the MI300 product line.

Speaking during the JP Morgan Global Technology, Media and Communications conference this week, AMD's chief financial officer Jean Hu talked up the chip shop's growth in the server market, but also claimed solid progress in GPUs and chips for PCs and laptops.

On the GPU side, AMD trumpeted a partnership with Microsoft, detailed during the latter's Build event, and revealed that Redmond is now offering virtual machine instances running the AMD MI300X GPU in its Azure cloud. Meanwhile its Azure OpenAI Service is also powered by the same accelerator and AMD's ROCm software stack.

"The MI300 is powering ChatGPT 3.5 and 4, Teams, Copilot, all of those applications. It's really one of the most important AI infrastructures in Microsoft Azure datacenter, so we are really pleased with our partnership with Microsoft," Hu explained.

When queried about AMD's GPU competitor (namely Nvidia) and its multi-year roadmap that now includes annual product updates, Hu replied that AMD will reveal its own plans within weeks.

"We tend to be more conservative from a roadmap perspective, but you should expect us to have a very competitive roadmap. I think, stay tuned, and we will have a preview of our roadmap in the coming weeks."

Which sounds like a roadmap for a roadmap.

Datacenter devotion

AMD has invested heavily in datacenter products, and Hu noted that's paid off with its recent momentum in both CPUs and GPUs for servers.

"When you look at our CPU business, we saw a strong double-digit growth year-over-year. And in Q2, we're going to see another strong double-digit year-over-year growth," she predicted. Significant adoption of the chipmaker's fourth-generation Epyc processors - including Genoa and Bergamo - is the reason for that growth. Increased production hasn't hurt.

"If you look at the market share in Q1, the third-party market share shows we are reaching 33 percent market share from the server CPU side," Hu noted, adding that "cloud market demand continues to be a little bit mixed."

In the enterprise market, Hu revealed that demand is starting to pick up - driven by the cost and power savings that AMD claims versus rival server technology (read: Intel). Organizations still have a need for general computing power but, at the same time, need to think about how they can accommodate AI, she opined.

"They are facing the challenges of running out of power and space. If you look at our Gen 4 family of processors, we literally can provide the same compute with 45 percent fewer servers. What that means is if they adopt AMD's solution versus our competitors, they actually can save capex almost by half upfront. And then, in addition, the operational cost will be 40 percent less," Hu explained.

She cited large enterprise customers such as American Express, Shell, and STMicro that are shifting to AMD-based infrastructure, and hoped this would continue with the "Turin" Epyc chips, based on its Zen 5 cores and due later this year.

AMD is also pleased with its performance on the desktop and laptop side of the market, claiming to have "year-over-year double-digit growth" for the desktop-centric versions of the Ryzen 8000 processor, and "almost doubled the revenue" from the mobile versions of the chips, according to Hu.

Can't have an interview without mentioning AI

Because it's 2024, Hu revealed that AMD’s pipeline includes kit for a next-generation AI PC, due in the second half of the year. "We do believe AI PC is a very significant inflection point. It will potentially help refresh the PC market," she opined.

Meanwhile, Arm is slowly making inroads into both PCs and datacenter servers, with Qualcomm showcasing numerous Windows-on-Arm devices at Microsoft Build this week.

Hu was asked if AMD would come to play - an interesting question, since AMD actually designed its own Arm cores about a decade ago. It even brought to market an Arm-based server chip - the Opteron A1100 - before deciding to ditch it and focus all resources on what would become the Zen core.

Hu declined to answer this question directly, saying only that AMD has the "capability and the IP blocks" to work with its customers on whatever they need.

Finally, Hu talked about Xilinx - the FPGA company that AMD acquired two years ago - and the potential synergy between it and AMD's CPU business in the embedded and industrial space, perhaps by combining CPUs and FPGAs.

Sectors such as industrial and automotive have been going through what Hu called a "deep inventory correction cycle" of late, but she predicted the first half of this year will be the bottom of the market, with a gradual recovery to follow.

"We feel quite confident about the longer term. The embedded business will continue to be a significant share gainer and continue to drive growth," Hu noted.

The embedded processor business has not traditionally been a priority for AMD but, "because of Xilinx, we have the natural leverage on the go-to-market side and the customer side," she claimed.

She conceded that revenue will not probably show up before 2025, but "that's one of the very significant synergies we see from the combination of the two companies."

Earlier this month, AMD reported revenue for Q1 2024 of $5.47 billion - up 2 percent on the same quarter a year ago - while its datacenter biz grew its revenues by 80 percent year-on-year. ®



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