Jim keller leaves AMD
Advanced Micro Devices on Friday said that Jim Keller, a legendary microprocessor architect, will leave the company, effective immediately. Mr. Keller worked on multiple future generations of central processing units (CPUs) and system-on-chips (SoCs) at AMD, his departure will have an effect on the company’s long-term roadmap, but will not have any effect on products in the next several years.
No immediate effect on product roadmap
AMD indicated that Jim Keller leaves the company after just three years to “pursue other opportunities.” Mark Papermaster, AMD’s chief technology officer, will be the acting leader of CPU architecture development group previously led by Mr. Keller. Eventually, AMD will have to find a decent replacement for the legendary chip architect.
“Deep team was in place to drive completion phase of our next-generation ‘Zen’ core and associated system IP and SOCs,” said Drew Prairie, director of corporate communications at AMD. “Jim Keller’s departure is not expected to impact our public product or technology roadmaps, and we remain on track for ‘Zen’ availability in 2016 with first full year of revenue in 2017. There are no other organizational changes related to Jim’s departure.”
Jim Keller, a legendary CPU architect, is best known for such high-performance designs as DEC’s Alpha 21164 and 21264, AMD’s “K8” (Athlon 64/Opteron), Apple’s “Swift”, “Cyclone”, “Typhoon” as well as multiple successful PowerPC- and MIPS-based system-on-chips. After Mr. Keller completed his work on “K8”, he left AMD in 1999. He returned to AMD in 2012.
“Zen” and “K12”
At AMD, Mr. Keller was responsible for development of the company’s next-generation x86 and ARM micro-architectures, including “Zen”, “Zen+”, “K12” and others. AMD claims that microprocessors based on its “Zen” cores will offer 40 per cent higher instructions per clock performance compared to “Excavator” x86 cores.
While a micro-architecture is crucially important for success of multiple generations of products, relatively small groups of people design it. Moreover, it does not take too long to create a modern CPU micro-architecture on a high-level. What does take a long time is implementation of actual hardware blocks inside processor cores (instruction fetchers/decoders, schedulers, arithmetic logic units, floating point units, etc.), development of various “un-core” components (pre-fetchers, internal interconnections, caches, memory controllers, interfaces, etc.), design and implementation of actual chips based on the architecture and hardware blocks. As a result, CPUs that are sold today are powered by micro-architectures developed many years ago.
“Architecture decisions are many years in advance of products,” explained the representative for AMD. “As you may remember, he was a primary architect on K8. We launched that product in 2003 and he had left AMD in 1999.”
The development of “Zen” (znver1) and “Zen+” (znver2) micro-architectures – which AMD has disclosed – has been completed a long time ago. At this point Mr. Keller’s CPU architecture design team may be finalizing the third iteration of Zen (znver3) or starting high-level design of the fourth iteration of Zen (znver4). Development of the “K12” and the “K12+” micro-architectures, which share a lot of innovations with “Zen”, has been finished too. It is highly likely that the departure of Mr. Keller will not significantly affect AMD’s products due in 2016 – 2018, all products based on “Zen” and “K12″ cores will see the light of day.
“We have a multi-generation roadmap in place to further enhance and improve the core well into the future,” said Mr. Prairie. “Our focus is on high-performance, scalable, 64-bit x86 and ARM cores.”
CPU development pipeline
Throughout its history, Advanced Micro Devices has developed a number of breakthrough micro-architectures and technologies that were years ahead of what their competitors offered at the time. Unfortunately, AMD did not always have enough resources to pursue new opportunities. So, when AMD decided to design two micro-architectures instead of one in 2005 – 2006, it was a risky decision, which eventually negatively affected the whole CPU development pipeline at the company. Fortunately, the pipeline has been fixed by now, thanks to Mark Papermaster and Jim Keller.
And Also Phil Rogers
Phil Rogers joins Nvidia
About Phil Rogers:
- was instrumental in the development of HSA—a technology that integrates the CPU and GPU on the same bus
- worked at ATI helping to develop Radeon GPUs from the 2000-series up
^That happens, AMD I think is restructuring their company so they need to do minor changes in management as well.
I don't think anyone would call those minor changes.
It's a microprocessor company, I think they got more esteemed employees than it looks. Even though AMD is near the drain
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