Economic Times: December 05, 2016
New Delhi: Mark Papermaster took charge as the chief technological officer at semiconductor-maker AMD in 2011, bringing with him three decades of experience across companies like Cisco, Apple and IBM.
His time at the chipmaker has seen it reposition itself to a more rounded technology- and graphics company with a strong focus on the gaming sector. In an interview with Priyanka Sangani, Papermaster said AMD has worked for several years to strengthen tech arsenal and create compelling products.
AMD has R&D centres in Hyderabad and Bengaluru, housing about 1,000 of its 6,000-strong global tech team. Excerpts:
What has AMD’s focus been after you took over?
This is an exciting time for AMD. We’ve been working for several years to strengthen our tech arsenal in CPUs and graphics and create compelling products. We looked at where the industry is going — augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) both need high performance CPUs and graphics, and we are bringing out our new products, which have been in development for the past three-four years.
What role do the centres in India play?
India is a key element of our development team and every aspect of product development. We have over 1,000 engineers here. The AMD strategy is focused on three pillars: gaming and immersive apps, which is VR and AR, compute – which is data centres, high-performance computing and high performance graphics – and semi-custom solutions, where we work with partners on products like the Xbox 1or PS4. The India design centre does a lot of key software and IP development with gaming and graphics, chip design and software as well as to create tailored solutions.
How do you see technologies like VR growing?
As with any new technology, some people are skeptical but there are always early adopters who are trailblazers and over time, we will see demand take off. We already have head mounted displays that provide high-end experiences and are seeing sufficient amount of content being created in the travel and education space. We are at the very beginning and as more content is created, will see it take off. Just like in consumer goods, there are tech cycles. Every 12-18 months, we will see new product revisions … it could be better screens or a wireless headset. As it becomes more affordable, more content is likely to be created and apps will take off. All it takes is one killer app for something to become popular.
What kind of work are you doing with the movie industry?
For movies, we are focusing on India because it is quite progressive and an early adopter of technology. Our chief graphics architect has created partnerships to leverage new technology to digitally render and deliver VR to bring this to the movies. We are starting with small but deep partnerships with the early adopters to prove the technology, like the movie Bahubali. In the first movie, a lot of the work was digitally rendered using AMD Radeon and for the second movie, we’ve created a VR trailer, shot using 360 degree capture.
Any specific areas that you’d like to focus on in the future?
There are a couple of areas that we expect to be high growth. One is compute: AMD products are very well suited for machine learning applications as they need CPU and GPU. Immersive computing is another area. Early applications like Bahubali are just the surface. It’s a nascent industry and will see significant growth for AMD to develop and support products.
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