AMD CTO Phil Hester out, no replacement named

Hester oversaw tech direction after being named to the CTO post in 2005, meaning he was at least partially responsible for the much-maligned Barcelona server processor.

Tom Krazit Former Staff writer, CNET News
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Tom Krazit
2 min read

Updated throughout at 10:30am PT after speaking with AMD.

AMD's chief technology officer, Phil Hester, has resigned his post atop the company's engineering efforts.

Former AMD CTO Phil Hester AMD

According to a flash report from The Wall Street Journal, Hester will not be replaced. An AMD spokesman confirmed that Friday is Hester's last day with the company, and that he's "looking to do new things." A link to Hester's biography off AMD's executive Web page defaults back to the home page.

Hester came to AMD from IBM in September of 2005, when the chipmaker was flying high on the success of its Opteron server processor. He's leaving at a low point for AMD, having presided over the debacle that was AMD's quad-core server processor, Barcelona. Barcelona finally became available in mass quantities this week after a year of delays caused by technical glitches and design issues.

Rob Keosheyan, an AMD spokesman, said Hester's involvement with Barcelona was not "hands on," although his biography on AMD's site said Hester was "responsible for setting the architectural and product strategies and plans for AMD's microprocessor business." Keosheyan said that was an "outdated" description of what Hester's day-to-day responsibilities were at the company.

Most of Hester's time was spent tackling AMD's ambitious Fusion project, which is now known as its accelerated computing initiative. Fusion is AMD's plan to integrate a graphics processor onto a CPU, and was the inspiration for the company's acquisition of ATI Technologies in 2006. But the first chip designed in this manner, a notebook chip code-named Swift, isn't expected to arrive until the second half of 2009, leaving quite a gap between now and then for Hester's replacements to iron out the kinks.

It's true that Hester isn't being directly replaced, Keosheyan said, but Hester has worked to "distribute" the CTO's responsibilities across individual business units, like server chips or graphics chips. As of next week, the individual CTOs will report to their business unit leaders, such as Mario Rivas, head of the processor group. One exception will be the accelerated computing initiative, which will report directly to President and COO Dirk Meyer.

AMD announced plans to lay off 10 percent of its workforce earlier in the week after also relaying the news of a revenue shortfall.