AMD has been looking for a president since last July when then-president and chief technology officer Atiq Raza abruptly resigned. The loss was a major blow to AMD, analysts said at the time. Not only was Raza the driving force behind Athlon, AMD's successful desktop performance processor, he was AMD's highest-ranking executive steeped in the technical side of chip development.
When Raza resigned, Sanders, whose career has revolved around marketing and sales, assumed the role of chief technical officer.
With Ruiz, 54, AMD gains an executive with extensive familiarity with its operations. Ruiz has been the point person for technology deals between the two companies. AMD, for instance, will use Motorola's copper chip technology for its first copper chips, coming out later this year. The two companies have also talked about sharing fabrication facilities, AMD executives have said.
While Ruiz will assume responsibility for AMD's operations, he will also be groomed to take over as CEO.
"I plan to run the business collegially with Hector...We plan to run it as a team," Sanders said. "If all goes well, I would expect to see Hector become my successor."
Sanders' contract, historically one of the more lucrative management contracts in the high-tech field, runs out in 2001. Although some likely want to see the flamboyant Sanders stay in the CEO spot, many would welcome the change. Various investors, including the giant pension fund CalPers, have asked him to resign in recent years because of spotty financial performance.
Of course, there is also a strong possibility that his contract will be renewed. Sanders is heavily identified with the company. He founded the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company, and there is a bust of him in AMD's corporate lobby.