PC World reports that AMD's Jim Anderson, senior VP of the Computing and Graphics Group, has left the company. His new role will be president and CEO at Lattice Semiconductor, so the move is perhaps less about what AMD is doing and more about what Anderson wants to do. Even so, this is yet another high placed executive at AMD that is moving on, following the departure of Raja Koduri, Jim Keller, and Chris Hook, all of whom ended up at Intel. Saeid Moshkelani will take over as senior VP and general manager of AMD's Client Compute Group, which consists of the CPU and APU portfolio.
It's difficult to say how much a single individual matters, with teams of hundreds and even thousands working on modern processor designs, but Anderson will almost certainly be missed. He leaves AMD on a high note, having helped champion the company's Zen architecture and Ryzen and Threadripper processors. This contrasts with Raja Koduri and AMD's graphics division, which largely disappointed with the Vega launch last year—not that it really mattered that much, thanks to cryptocurrency driven sales of GPUs messing up everything. But with Bitcoin and cryptocurrency mining profits plummeting into the red, we're left with gaming performance as the primary use (just as the GPU gods intended).
What comes next for both the CPU and GPU teams from AMD is the real question. Ryzen is beating Intel on core and thread counts, with good power efficiency as well. Clockspeeds are the only potential weak point for the CPUs, with AMD nipping at Intel's heels in many benchmarks while claiming outright wins in others. The upcoming Zen 2 architecture, expected in early 2019, could give AMD an undisputed lead in the CPU market. GPUs are a different story, with Vega using far more power than equivalent performance Nvidia parts, along with expensive HBM2 memory. Vega 64 trades blows with the GTX 1080, but it costs significantly more to manufacture and draws about 100W more power.
AMD's next step is 7nm process technology, down from the current 12/14nm processes currently in use. That skips the 10nm node completely, but perhaps more important is that GlobalFoundries, which originally split off from AMD's manufacturing division, will not be the choice for 7nm production. GloFo is apparently stepping back from competing for the latest manufacturing nodes and will work to refine its 12nm and 14nm designs—with 14nm at least having been licensed from Samsung. AMD will primarily use TSMC for 7nm fabrication, with Vega 7nm and future Zen 7nm parts both remaining on track.
Fans of AMD might be more concerned with this revelation, as it means the company won't have any significant manufacturing advantage over rival Nvidia when it comes to GPUs. If AMD can move to volume production of GPUs on TSMC's 7nm node, Nvidia can do the same. Regardless, we don't expect to see consumer focused 7nm Vega GPUs any time soon—they might show up in 2019, but current indications are that AMD intends for Vega 7nm to focus on the supercomputer, datacenter, and workstation markets. Navi 7nm comes next, and could arrive in 2019 as well, hopefully with support for ray tracing technology that will give Nvidia's upcoming Turing GPUs some much needed competition.
We wish Anderson all the best at Lattice Semiconductor. The company primarily works on FPGAs, so not something we're likely to talk about much at PC Gamer. But thanks for the good times we've had with Ryzen and Threadripper, and the subsequent core wars with Intel.