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AMD loses 64-bit CTO

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After working so hard to create and promote AMD's 64-bit chip technology, CTO Fred Weber will leave the company just as his effort begins to pay off.

AMD today delivered a mild shocker to the chip industry by revealing that Weber will ride off into the venture capital sunset that eventually captures the hearts of so many inventive types. Former Newisys boss and Opteron lackey Phil Hester will fit into AMD's CTO role. Hester also served as CTO of IBM's PC division during a twenty-year run at Big Blue.

Weber and AMD dodged the familiar "wanted to spend more time with my family" exit excuse in favor of the "I've done my bit, and we're all friends" line.

"I am an entrepreneur at heart," said Weber. "Six years ago I made a commitment to AMD and my team to bring AMD64 technology to market. I'm proud to say that part of the job is done; AMD64 and Direct Connect Architecture are established mainstream technologies."

Go on. Give your replacement the love.

"Phil is a great leader, and a great technologist," Weber continued. "He has an incredible depth and breadth of experience in system-level innovation at both the commercial and consumer levels, most of which is based on decades-long relationships with some of our most important customers and partners."

Depth and breadth, you say?

As AMD made its push to become a server processor player, Weber could often be found at industry conferences, holding large fistfuls of memory and explaining the value of 64-bit extensions. As the canned quotation points out, Weber's team led the work on Opteron, Athlon64, the Direct Connect technology and Hypertransport.

These products and architecture advances made it possible for AMD not only to catch up to rival Intel on the server front but eventually to best it from a performance standpoint. Over the past two years, AMD has managed to sign up IBM, HP and Sun Microsystems as server processor customers and to gain close to 10 per cent of the x86 chip market. AMD also forced Intel to cave on 64-bit extensions and to rush dual-core processors to market. Weber deserves some credit for all of the above.

Hester tried to capitalize on Weber's vision by starting Newisys - the most vocal early advocate of Opteron-based servers. The company never managed to gain as much OEM business as hoped with companies such as HP and Sun flirting with Newisys designs and then coming up with their own systems.

"You'll be seeing bigger moves in the consumer electronics space from us coming next year," Hester said. "The digital lifestyle space is actually many high-growth markets rolled into one, from content creation all the way through the value chain to content consumption. There is nothing stopping our x86 processors from entering and gaining share in each of them."

Hester will report to Dirk Meyer, president and chief operating officer of microprocessors at AMD. ®

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