On the day following what’s perhaps one of the greatest (and oddest) product design wins for AMD’s Radeon Technologies Group, a second bit of surprising news is coming out of AMD. Raja Koduri, the Senior VP and Chief Architect of the group, who has been its leader since the RTG was formed two years ago, has announced that he is resigning from the company, effective tomorrow.

Word of Raja’s resignation originally broke via an internal memo penned by Raja and acquired by Hexus. And while AMD will not confirm the validity of the memo, the company is confirming that Raja has decided to leave the company.

To my AMD family,

Forty is a significant number in history.  It is a number representing transition, testing and change. I have just spent forty days away from the office going through such a transition. It was an important time with my family, and it also offered me a rare space for reflection. During this time I have come to the extremely difficult conclusion that it is time for me to leave RTG and AMD.

I have no question in my mind that RTG, and AMD, are marching firmly in the right direction as high-performance computing becomes ever-more-important in every aspect of our lives.  I believe wholeheartedly in what we are doing with Vega, Navi and beyond, and I am incredibly proud of how far we have come and where we are going. The whole industry has stood up and taken notice of what we are doing. As I think about how computing will evolve, I feel more and more that I want to pursue my passion beyond hardware and explore driving broader solutions.

I want to thank Lisa and the AET for enabling me to pursue my passion during the last four years at AMD, and especially the last two years with RTG. Lisa has my utmost respect for exhibiting the courage to enable me with RTG, for believing in me and for going out of her way to support me.  I would also like to call out Mark Papermaster who brought me into AMD, for his huge passion for technology and for his relentless support through many difficult phases.  And of course, I want to thank each and every one of my direct staff and my indirect staff who have worked so hard with me to build what we have now got.  I am very proud of the strong leaders we have and I'm fully confident that they can execute on the compelling roadmap ahead.

I will continue to be an ardent fan and user of AMD technologies for both personal and professional use.

As I mentioned, leaving AMD and RTG has been an extremely difficult decision for me.  But I felt it is the right one for me personally at this point.  Time will tell.  I will be following with great interest the progress you will make over the next several years.

On a final note, I have asked a lot of you in the last two years.  You've always delivered.  You've made me successful both personally and professionally, for which I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.  I have these final requests from you as I leave:

. Stay focused on the roadmap!
. Deliver on your commitments!
. Continue the culture of Passion, Persistence and Play!
. Make AMD proud!
. Make me proud!


Meanwhile, AMD has released a short statement confirming Raja’s resignation and thanking him for his service, while also stating that this is not going to impact RTG’s product roadmap or schedule.

Earlier today, we announced two unrelated updates for our Radeon Technologies Group: 1) Raja Koduri has decided to leave AMD and 2) we are taking the next steps in our work to strengthen RTG by further focusing the organization on key growth areas.

I wanted to also make sure you understood these updates do not impact our plans or the strategic direction we are driving our graphics business.   We appreciate the contributions Raja has made helping establish our dedicated graphics focus and  strong team that is capable of accomplishing the ambitious goals we have set for this part of our business.  Also want to make sure it is clear that there are no changes to our public product or technology graphics roadmaps, and we remain on track to deliver on our commitments in 2018 and beyond. Lisa will continue to lead RTG on an interim basis while we complete our search for a new leader.

We have made significant progress across AMD these past two years delivering the first wave of our high-performance products, best exemplified by our improved financial performance and year-over-year market share gains across all of our client, graphics and server products. Today’s changes are designed to allow us to better take advantage of the significant growth opportunities in front of us.

Raja’s resignation comes just under two months in to his three month sabbatical. At the time, Raja left to spend time with his family, and now will not be returning. This marks the second time Raja has left AMD, after having left as the company’s graphics CTO in 2009 to go work at Apple (and where his influence is still felt there today).

While AMD is reiterating that this won’t affect the RTG product roadmap, Raja’s resignation will none the less make waves at RTG and in the broader GPU community. Since the RTG reorganization Raja was for all intents and purposes the CEO of AMD’s graphics business, with the responsibilities and publicity that follow. Raja has overseen and led all aspects of AMD graphics hardware and software, and Raja’s public presence and involvement rendered him the face of graphics at AMD, in all senses of the word. So for the RTG, this marks the departure of the group’s first leader, and a visionary one at that.

And while neither AMD nor Raja’s statements comment on it for obvious reason, the elephant in the room is going to be whether Raja’s resignation is related to the launch of AMD’s Vega GPU architecture. While the Vega 10 has returned AMD to competitiveness in the high-end market, it has not been as strong of a competitor as AMD (or fans) would like to see, and some hardware features have still not been enabled. It would be unusual for someone to resign (or be forced out) after a less-than-smooth launch like Vega, but not unheard of. But for now, as no one will be discussing internal politics, anything on the matter would be speculation at best.

On a personal note, I wish Raja the best of luck on his future endeavors. While AMD is still fighting to escape their underdog status in the GPU world, it’s not for a lack of effort, and it’s been Raja spearheading that effort. Cementing AMD’s graphics operations under a single group – and a single leader – has done wonders for how the company communicates with press and users alike. As RTG’s leader he’s both shown a passion for the technology that clearly rubbed off on the rest of the group, and at the same time he has been honest about RTG’s faults. Anand once called Raja “the king”, and after 4 years I can see why.

As for AMD and RTG’s future, since the start of Raja’s sabbatical, Dr. Lisa Su has been running the RTG. AMD has confirmed that this arrangement will not be changing, and that Lisa will continue to run the RTG while the company searches for a new leader for the group. In the meantime, briefly touched upon in Raja’s memo and AMD’s official statement, in an unrelated matter the company is confirming that they are making further investments into gaming and server GPU compute. This isn’t a new direction for the company, as it’s been clear they’ve intended to take Vega in this direction from the start, but some additional investments have been made to this effect.

Source: Hexus & AMD

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  • trane - Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - link

    Actually, Vega is a more advanced architecture than Pascal. It's downfall is that it's suffering from clock speed limitations. At ~1200 MHz, Vega is literally as efficient as Pascal at ~1700 MHz. Consider compute and games that utilize some of Vega's advanced features like Wolfenstein II (it matches 1080 Ti), it's well ahead.

    Sadly, that's a massive clock speed deficit, and to bridge some of that, they have had to push Vega 10 to the ragged edge of perf/W. At ~1500 MHz, Vega's perf/W is about half that at ~1200 MHz. Some of it is due to going GlobalFoundries - we have seen how Xbox Scorpio is significantly more efficient than RX 580 or 470 at TSMC; and how GP107 at Samsung 14nm clocks much lower than GP106 at TSMC. But some of it is also due to Nvidia's superior scaling. For this gen, Nvidia took the right call by focussing on boosting clock speeds, while AMD were trying to innovate.

    AMD should learn from this mistake - the market is decided in the here and now. While it's no secret that AMD cards age better, I think they have gone too far with Vega. There are so many advanced features here, and most of it is just wasted in die space and power. Literally, releasing Fury X die shrink with GDDR5X would be as fast in DX11 games, and also something they could have released in 2016.

    However, the pains of Vega does mean they now have an advanced architecture to build upon. Let's hope they let go of that innovation bug and start focusing on actual product that beats Nvidia in the here and now.
  • The_Assimilator - Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - link

    > releasing Fury X die shrink with GDDR5X would be as fast in DX11 games, and also something they could have released in 2016

    Fury X, or even a die shrunk version, could never have been coupled with GDDR5/X for one simple reason: power consumption. 8GB of GDDR5/X would've added an extra ~30W on top of Fury's already ridiculous TDP, which would have pushed the card's perf/watt into no man's buy territory.

    Of course, AMD was never going to admit their chips are power hogs and that they literally had no choice but to find something more efficient than GDDR5/X to be even remotely competitive in perf/watt, so instead they got their marketing department to spin HBM as "the future", and of course the fanboys ate it up hook, line and sinker.

    NVIDIA, in contrast, learned well from the disaster that was Fermi and haven't made the same mistake again, and as such has had no problem using GDDR5/X on even their most power-hungry parts. That's also why they've already committed to the known quantity that is GDDR6, while AMD continues to muddle along with HBM and defective silicon interposers driving their chip yields into the floor.
  • pepone1234 - Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - link

    >Vega is a more advanced architecture than Pascal. It's downfall is that it's suffering from clock speed limitations. At ~1200 MHz, Vega is literally as efficient as Pascal at ~1700 MHz.

    I thought those extra 4 billion transistors of vega were there to provide better clocks without sacrificing efficiency. What's the point then in comparing vega at 1200mhz and pascal at 1700mhz?

    Then stay with the fury. You at least save 4 billion transistors. Something has to be very very wrong with vega.
  • Bateluer - Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - link

    Come one man, you know none of that is true. Vega's perf/watt is excellent, with most its high TDP coming solely from the higher clock speeds RTG was forced to ship it with. And I don't know why this 'Vega is a year late' myth keeps coming up. Vega was, at most, a month late, well within predictions for a major product launch. It was always scheduled on AMD's roadmaps for Q2 2017, going back to published documents in mid 2015. This myth gets reposted at Reddit frequently too, and it gets put down there as well.
  • Stuka87 - Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - link

    Vega was already well into development before Raja took over RTG. So Vega being good or bad was not Raja's doing.
  • Dr. Swag - Tuesday, November 7, 2017 - link

    I must say I'm surprised, but at the same time I'm not really that surprised.

    RTG seems to have had issues from the start. From bad marketing, to bad choices (one 6 pin on the 480 for example), to bad launches, they just haven't seemed to be doing well.

    When Raja announced he would be taking a sabbatical I though it was like a step towards resignation, and that it might be good for RTG to have Lisa Su as the head instead seeing as she's done well for amd.

    Maybe this'll be good for amd, but only time will tell.
  • ash9 - Tuesday, November 7, 2017 - link

    Roger's gone to work for Intel, like engineers before him who went to Apple and Tesla. Seems to work out for AMD.
  • webdoctors - Tuesday, November 7, 2017 - link

    Forty is a significant number in history. It is a number representing transition, testing and change


    9/11 is a significant # in history, so is 420.

    Every # has some significance at some place or time.

    Engineering is a tough game, can't sugarcoat numbers unlike other fields.
  • bennyg - Tuesday, November 7, 2017 - link

    Start of next investor call TL;DR: Hello, Item 1, regarding our missed projections for RTG, please accept this freshly scapegoated head on a plate.
  • Flunk - Tuesday, November 7, 2017 - link

    Seeing as Vega was an entire year late this has been coming for a while.

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