LONDON – Hector Ruiz, former CEO of Advanced Micro Devices Inc., has written a book that provides background to the company's struggle with Intel and on AMD's decision to get out of manufacturing.
Ruiz stood down as CEO in 2008 but in Slingshot: AMD's fight to free an industry from the ruthless grip of Intel, he continues to criticize AMD's rival. "We blew the top off of the industry and exposed its unsavory secrets in a way that forced Intel and computer makers to back off their backroom deals, clean up their act and refocus on what really mattered: the customer." Ruiz has written in the book, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Ruiz presided over AMD during a time when despite some engineering success it was struggling to achieve design wins and market share and the company pursued Intel through the courts alleging anti-competitive behavior.
Intel was found guilty of anti-competitive behavior in South Korea, Japan and Europe. In the United States in November 2009 New York's attorney general filed an antitrust lawsuit against Intel claiming the company used illegal methods to dominate the market for computer microprocessors. A week later AMD agreed to drop the antitrust lawsuit against Intel in exchange for $1.25 billion. Project Slingshot was the internal name of the initiative to fight Intel.
The book also goes into other controversial decisions. One was the decision to buy ATI Technologies in 2006 to obtain graphics rendering capability. AMD's first choice had been Nvidia Corp. but Ruiz reportedly reveals that the deal foundered on price and the fact the Nvidia's CEO wanted to be made chairman of AMD.
The book also sketches out how the decision to cut across Jerry Sanders' mantra that real men have fabs was enabled by a member of the Ferrari sports car family who helped broker a deal between AMD and the oil-rich country of Abu Dhabi.
"If the Abu Dhabi deal were to fall through, AMD would not survive. I had to do everything in my control to make it happen," Ruiz has written in the book, reports the Wall Street Journal.
He said AMD got the industry to focus on the consumer. It will be interesting to read his interpretation of that and compare my memories of being a consumer during those days.
In the circles I ran in, it was a "David vs. Goliath" battle. But it was also a battle of focusing on reliability and finish (Intel) vs. focusing on catching by taking shortcuts (AMD).
I understand that both companies likely took shortcuts. Both certainly had misses and hits, but this is the perspective I had.
AMD would skip features like graceful thermal shutdown and allow overclocking to the extreme. Intel would sometimes try to prevent overclocking, ostensibly in the name of reliability, but possibly to protect sales of more expensive chips.
AMD was automatically seen as being better, regardless of any evidence supporting or disputing that position, simply because it was smaller.
Certainly, though, the presence of strong competition kept Intel striving to build better products.
Hector the Sector Wrector ( as in Motorola Semiconductor Sector ) has the credibility of a Wetback. INCOMPETENT IDIOT who reached the top because of Motorola's disastrous Policy to promote minorities at all costs.
Ruiz was a disaster both at Motorola and at AMD.
Ruiz squandered AMD's performance advantage, Opteron, and failed to capitalize on Intel's serious missteps (Itanium and Pentium IV) by engaging Intel in a price war despite having the more competitive, premium product line.
Under Ruiz, AMD failed to invest both in mobility and next generation mainstream CPU architectures.
Under Ruiz, AMD wrecked an excellent relationship with its key chipset enabler, Nvidia through AMD's (massively overpriced and mismanaged) acquisition of ATI.
Under Ruiz, AMD failed to secure Apple's PowerPC transition business.
Ruiz was and is deeply despised by most of the technical staff at AMD and Motorola and was subsequently forced to resign, in disgrace, from GlobalFoundries.
To quote one AMD technical staff member:
"If Hector Ruiz ever came back to AMD we'd slash more than just the tires on his car this time"
chipmonk, personal attacks and racist remarks are grossly inappropriate in a professional forum.
He certainly must've had logical business reasons for the decisions he made then, most likely with inputs from his Group GMs and mindful of his responsibilities to the CEO and to Motorola stockholders. It didn't work out so well, but after all these years, I think it would be fascinating to get a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes discussions & debates that lead to some of those reorginizations and shifts in strategy.
It's the "Wetback" comment, dude. Everything else you wrote was in bounds: "Hector the Sector Wrector" is actually brilliant and your noting of Motorola supporting destructive policies is also appropriate. But "wetback" is totally out of place here.
If that book was published 5 years ago that could had been interesting...but now?...after his Motorola endeavor?? why not write about that experience...AMD fights with Intel are sooo irrelevant today...give me a book on ARM vs Intel, I will read it in a heartbeat
Failure has 1000 reasons, if we have to learn from them there are billion of those...I like to learn from leader's who navigated to sucess...
That is the book of interest to me...
Looking forward to reading anyhow on how to fail and then show how wonderful leadership decios are...only in America.
Ditto on the pre-AMD chapters. Those were some ugly times. The most vivid memory for me, and the point where I realized I needed to work for another company, was when the sheer hubris of his "plan" was revealed at a management con-fab and I recall sitting there thinking "The Emperor wears no clothes".
As a former AMD-er, I was saddened when Atiq Raza stepped down as President in 1999. The acquisition of NexGen (which Raza founded) in 1996 helped to push AMD ahead of Intel with the Athlon and Opteron products. It was always a "David vs. Goliath" fight, and both Jerry Sanders and Atiq Raza provided inspirational leadership. In contrast, Hector Ruiz was a completely uninspiring CEO (2004-2008). Hector was recruited by Jerry in 2000, after the AMD-Moto technology alliance. His misadventure at Globalfoundries is already mentioned in another comment.
Another ex-AMD-er that worked for both Jerry Sanders and Hector Ruiz. For Jerry, we would scale mountains and breach fire. For Hector, we would watch in disgust as he layed off employees and drove his ostentatious Hummer to work and had it watched via security cameras after it got keyed by disgruntled employees. I wonder if Hector covers his SEC insider trading scandal in his book? Does he cover his million dollar makeover of his office at Moto SPS when shedding employees? Danny1024's comments above are right on the money.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.