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AMD's Henri Richard to step down

The top sales and marketing executive at beleaguered AMD plans to leave the company after a disastrous year, CNET News.com has confirmed.

Advanced Micro Devices will announce the imminent departure of Henri Richard, the company's chief sales officer, later this afternoon, CNET News.com has confirmed.

A source familiar with AMD's plans confirmed the news, first reported earlier Wednesday by Hexus.net, that Richard plans to step down from his post as executive vice president and chief sales and marketing officer. Hexus said Richard's departure will be effective as of September 8.

AMD's chief salesman Henri Richard is resigning from the company. AMD

Richard's loss is a very significant development in what has been a for AMD. Its flagship product for 2007, a quad-core server chip known as Barcelona, will arrive six months later than expected after a number of technical glitches. AMD has lost a ton of money in the interim, trying to compete against Intel's quad-core chips by slashing the prices of its dual-core chips.

Of course, not all of this can be placed at the feet of Richard. It's hard to call on lucrative server customers with dual-core chips, when the competition has quad-core ones to offer. PC customers don't care about quad-core just yet, but server customers do. It's not clear how much of a role Richard played in AMD's decision to pursue its "native quad-core" strategy over the much quicker-to-market packaged quad-core design that Intel has adopted. AMD also had problems with its distribution strategy of late, forcing it to write off a lot of unsold inventory earlier in the year.

Richard has been a very public figure at AMD, where CEO Hector Ruiz and COO Dirk Meyer are much less visible. Richard presided over a question-and-answer session with reporters last month at AMD's analyst meeting, and has been one of the leading executive voices behind AMD's antitrust campaign against Intel. He has been with AMD since 2002, right before its surge coming off the launch of the Opteron processor.

But he is also known for his confrontational style. Richard lashed out against Intel's marketing practices this year, accusing the company of distorting benchmarks to make AMD look bad, only to have it backfire when AMD was found to have done something similar. He also derided reporters at AMD's analyst meeting for not pursuing the allegations in AMD's antitrust suit against Intel more aggressively, and suggested that the majority of AMD's struggles could be traced to anticompetitive behavior by Intel, not any possible missteps by AMD. It looks like Richard is leaving on his own to pursue another opportunity, but there's no official word on what lies in wait.

An AMD representative declined to comment on the report. If the date of Richard's departure is accurate, the company will have to pull off its biggest product launch of the year, Barcelona, without its head salesman.

AMD's stock price was down 10 cents (or 0.82 percent) just prior to the close of trading on the New York Stock Exchange. An official announcement is expected after the close of the NYSE.