AMD copes with shift in market away from PCs

The chip maker has had to adjust its company culture, but says it is adapting to a world in which personal computers don’t play as large a role as they once did.

LAS VEGAS -- A senior executive at Advanced Micro Devices said the chipmaker's plan to expand beyond the struggling PC market has involved a difficult shift in company culture but is well under way.

Lisa Su, AMD's Senior Vice President and General Manager of Global Business Units, told Reuters at the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas that veteran engineers who for years have specialized in designing PC chips based on Intel's "x86" architecture are warming to new ways of doing things.

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Su joined AMD as part of a new management team hired by CEO Rory Read, who came from PC maker Lenovo in 2011 promising to make the chipmaker more efficient.

She previously worked on embedded chips at Freescale Semiconductor and IBM, and she has been described on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley as one of AMD's most promising executives.

Su said her lack of experience in PCs, the source of 80 percent of AMD's business, has been an asset in developing new strategy.

"I'm a big believer in using the best IP for a given application. It's because I'm not a long-time AMDer," Su said.

"There is a mentality that if you're a long time AMDer that we're x86, we know what we're doing and it's just about building better x86 devices," she said. "Much of the transition over the past year is that now we're a system-on-a-hip company. That's the future and we'll deliver the best technology for our growth markets."

A system on a chip, or SoC, is a chip that integrates several features found in a computer into a single piece of silicon.

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