AMD CEO Lisa Su is lukewarm on cryptocurrency but big on blockchain

Flickr via AMD Global. Click for original.

(Image: © Flickr via AMD Global)

Oftentimes throughout the year it has been frustrating shopping for a graphics card. Buyers had to contend with low inventories and inflated price tags, in large part because cryptocurrency mining was exerting its influence on the market. But according AMD CEO Dr. Lisa Su, cryptocurrency is not a major driver of GPU sales for the company.

In an appearance on CNBC's Power Lunch program, Su talked about AMD's recent performance. When asked about cryptocurrency and how important it is to AMD's bottom line, Su had some interesting things to say.

"I think the important thing is to really understand what are we all about, and AMD is really about high performance computing," Su began. "We are in so many different applications, we are in some of the newest game consoles from Microsoft and Sony, we're in Apple's new iMac Pro, we're working with some of the largest datacenters, and yes, there are some people who buy our graphics processors for mining."

Despite the concession, Su says that mining represents a "very small percentage" of AMD's overall business, somewhere in the mid single digits. When pressed further on the impact cryptocurrency mining has had on prices and availability, Su sort of avoided the question and pointed to gaming as being a much bigger market.

"Well actually what we're seeing is gaming is a tremendous growth market for us. We love gaming, we are in the game consoles, we sell a lot of add-in board graphics cards, we actually sell quite a few graphics systems and what we've seen is that this is going to continue to grow," Su said.

While Su downplayed the cryptocurrency market, she does believe there is big potential in blockchain, the underlying technology behind Bitcoin (which is largely mined on ASIC hardware these days), Ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies.

"I view [blockchain] as a positive foundational technology that can change the way we interact on a daily basis... When you think about blockchain technologies, it's really an opportunity to transform how we do business on the internet. I think cryptocurrency is just one piece of it... it's a small piece of our business today," Su said.

She also talked about processor sales during Black Friday. Led by the company's recently launched Ryzen chips, which have been heavily discounted this holiday season, AMD saw its processor sales triple on Amazon and Newegg, compared to last year.

You can check out the full interview below.