Dirk Meyer moves into No. 2 spot at AMD

Meyer is the president of only one business unit at AMD, but soon there will be only be one.

Michael Kanellos Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Michael Kanellos is editor at large at CNET News.com, where he covers hardware, research and development, start-ups and the tech industry overseas.
Michael Kanellos
2 min read
Dirk Meyer, the father of the Athlon chip, has become the No. 2 executive at Advanced Micro Devices through a promotion and the practical realities of a corporate reorganization.

Meyer, who came to AMD after stints at Intel and Digital Equipment Corporation, has run the computational products group at AMD for the last several years as a senior and as an executive vice president. The group made chips for PCs and servers.

Last week, the company appointed Meyer to become president and COO of the Microprocessor Solutions Sector, a new group that will oversee all of AMD's microprocessor development, including the development of microprocessors for consumer electronics and embedded systems, formerly a separate division. (AMD also promoted Henri Richard to chief sales and marketing officer.)

The promotion effectively puts Meyer on par with Bertrand Cambou, the CEO of Spansion, an AMD-Fujitsu joint venture on flash memory largely controlled by AMD. Last week, AMD announced it planned to spin off Spansion in an IPO, despite recent financial losses.

With the Spansion IPO, AMD will have only one group, making Meyer the de facto No. 2 man. As stated by an AMD spokesman, "Dirk is the president of...the business unit."

Meyer, along with CEO Hector Ruiz, Chief Technical Officer Fred Weber and manufacturing whiz Bill Siegel, is considered one of the key architects behind AMD's turnaround. Historically, AMD produced chips that were largely based on the same designs Intel used but cost about 25 percent less. This made it difficult to gain market share or turn a profit.

Barred by a legal agreement from using the same bus as Intel on its K7 chips (the code name for the Athlon architecture), AMD created the Athlon, which sported a bus from Digital and other enhancements. Released in 1999, many versions of the chip outperformed equivalent chips at Intel and allowed AMD to return, at least for some quarters, back to profitability.

The chip also helped AMD land design wins with most of the major PC manufacturers.