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AMD creates server division, loses chip head

Bergman leaves for 'a new opportunity'

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AMD is creating a new server division to try to do a better job taking on Intel in the x86 server racket and has said goodbye to general manager of its Products Group, Rick Bergman, who is leaving the company "to pursue a new opportunity".

The moves are part new CEO Rory Read's rejiggering of the company after taking the reins at the end of August.

Bergman joined AMD through the $5.4bn acquisition of discrete graphics chip and card maker ATI Technology back in July 2006 and merged the desktop and server processor business with the ATI graphics business to create the Products Group. Bergman then took over as general manager of this unit.

A few months later, in December 2007, AMD discovered a bug in the quad-core "Barcelona" Opteron processors, and it took until the following April, when the Great Recession was building up to a roar, to get that chip out the door with a patch. That Barcelona bug dented AMD's reputation with server makers, who were at that time eyeing a substantially improved Xeon chip and chipset design (which bore more than a passing resemblance to the Opteron): the pivotal "Nehalem-EP" Xeon 5500s. These chips launched in March 2009, right into the gaping maw of the Great Recession, and AMD has been struggling to get back into the server racket since then.

While Bergman is not being blamed publicly for the issues that AMD has had in getting its 32 nanometer desktop and server processors out the door (in conjunction with its fab partner, GlobalFoundries), this is very likely one of the issues that resulted in Bergman leaving the chip-maker.

Moreover, AMD seemed to lack a sense of urgency in getting its server chip business on track, which is one of the reasons why Dirk Meyer was asked to step down as CEO at AMD back in January. It is also possible that Bergman – who worked at S3 Graphics, Texas Instruments, and IBM over the course of his career – had had his eye on the AMD CEO job, which was given to Read, the president and COO of Chinese PC and server-maker Lenovo, in late August.

Read is assuming Bergman's responsibilities in running the Products Group until a successor is named.

AMD also announced that it has created a Commercial Business Division focused on server processors and chipsets, the high-performance computing market (which includes servers, chipsets, and GPU coprocessors), and embedded systems. Paul Struhsaker, who was most recently senior vice president of engineering for set-top boxes and video server applications at cable operator Comcast, has been hired in as vice president and general manager of the Commercial Business Division. Struhsaker has three decades managing chip rollouts at Motorola and Texas Instruments under his belt. ®

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