Podcast #368 - full GTX 980s in notebooks, Samsung's NVMe 950 Pro, Jim Keller leaving AMD and more!

Subject: General Tech | September 24, 2015 - 03:22 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, amd, Jim Keller, Zen, Samsung, 950 PRO, NVMe, M.2, vnand, Thrustmaster, tx f458, Lenovo, Thinkpad, x1 carbon, x250, t450s, helix

PC Perspective Podcast #368 - 09/24/2015

Join us this week as we discuss full GTX 980s in notebooks, Samsung's NVMe 950 Pro, Jim Keller leaving AMD and more!

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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Morry Teitelman

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Jim Keller Leaves AMD

Subject: Editorial | September 18, 2015 - 01:00 PM |
Tagged: Zen, raja koduri, lisa su, Jim Keller, bulldozer, amd

2012 was a significant year for AMD.  Many of the top executives left and there were many new and exciting hires at the company.  Lisa Su, who would eventually become President and CEO of AMD was hired in January of that year.  Rory Read seemed to be on a roll with many measures to turn around the company.  He also convinced some big name folks to come back to AMD from other lucrative positions.  One of these rehires was Jim Keller.


Jim Keller, breakin it down for AMD. Or doing "The Robot". Or both.

Today it was announced that Jim would be leaving AMD effective Sept. 18th.  He was back at AMD for three years and in that time headed up the CPU group.  He implemented massive changes that would result in the design of the upcoming Zen architecture.  There was a full scale ejection of the Bulldozer concept that powered AMD processors since 2011 with the FX-8150 introduction with the current Excavator core design to last through 2016 with the final product being "Bristol Ridge,"expected next summer.  Zen will not ship until late 2016 with the first full quarter of revenue in 2017.

Jim helped to develop the K7 and K8 processors from AMD.  He also was extremely influential in the creation of the X86-64 ISA that not only powers AMD’s parts, but also was adopted by Intel after their disastrous EPIC/IA64 ISA failed to go anywhere.  His past also includes work at DEC on the Alpha processors and before AMD at Apple working on the A4 and A5 SOCs.

We do not know any of the details about his leaving, and perhaps never will.  AMD has released an official statement that “Jim Keller is leaving AMD to pursue other opportunities, effective September 18”.  Looking at Jim’s past employment, he seems to move around a bit.  Perhaps he enjoys coming into a place, turning things around, implementing some new thinking, but then becomes bored with the daily routine of management, budget, and planning.

In the near future this change will not affect AMD’s roadmaps or product lineups.  We still will see Bristol Ridge as the follow-up for Godavari in Summer 2016 and the late 2016 introduction of Zen.  What can be said beyond that is hard to quantify.  There are a lot of smart and talented people still working at AMD and perhaps this allows someone there to step up and introduce the next generation of architectures and thinking at AMD.  Everybody likes the idea of a rockstar designer coming in to shake things up, but time moves on and new people become those rockstars.

We wish Jim well on his new journey and hope that this is not a harbinger of things to come for AMD.  Consumers need the competition that AMD brings to the table and we certainly hope we see them continue to release new products and stay on a schedule that will benefit both them and consumers.  Perhaps he will join fellow veteran Glenn Henry at VIA/Centaur and produce the next, great X86-64 chip.  Perhaps not.

Source: AMD

AMD Hires Veteran CPU Architect in Jim Keller

Subject: Processors | August 1, 2012 - 08:38 AM |
Tagged: x86-64, x86, MIPS, Jim Keller, arm, amd, Alpha

There has been quite a bit of news lately from AMD, and very little of it good.  What has perhaps dominated the headlines throughout this past year was the amount of veteran AMD employees who have decided (or were pushed) to seek employment elsewhere.  Not much has been said from these departing employees, but Rory Read certainly started things off with a bang by laying off some 10% of the company just months into his tenure.

Now we finally have some good news in terms of employment.  AMD has hired a pretty big name in the industry.  Not just a big name, but a person who was one of the primary leads on two of AMD’s most successful architectures to date.  Jim Keller is coming back to AMD, and at a time where it seems AMD needs some veteran leadership who is very in touch with not just the industry, but CPU architecture design.

Jim was a veteran of DEC and worked on some of the fastest Alpha processors of the time.  Much could be written about DEC and how they let what could have been one of the most important and profitable architectures in computing history sit essentially on the back burner while they focused on seemingly dinosaur age computing.  After the Alpha was sold off and DEC sold away, Jim found his way to AMD and played a very important role at that company.


The first product was helping to launch the K7, and worked primarily with system engineering.  The vast majority of design work for the K7 was finished by the time he signed on, but he apparently worked quite a bit on integrating it into the new socket architecture that was derived from the DEC Alpha.  Where Jim really earned his keep was in co-authoring the x86-64 specification and being lead architect on the AMD K8 series of processors.  While he left in 1999, the mark he left on AMD is essentially indelible.

After AMD he joined Sibyte (Broadcom) and was lead architect on a series of MIPS processors used in networking devices.  This lasted until 2003 and he again left the company seemingly more prosperous than when he began.

PA-Semi was the next stop and he worked again primarily on networking specific SOCs utilizing the PowerPC architecture.  So far, by counting fingers, Jim has worked on five major ISAs (Alpha, x86, x86-64, MIPS, and PowerPC).  These chips were able to power networking devices with 10 Gb throughput.  PA-Semi was then purchased by Apple in 2007/2008.

At Apple Jim was now Director of Platform Architecture and worked with yet another major ISA; ARM.  Jim worked to develop several major and successful products with the A4 and A5 processors that have powered the latest iPhone and iPad products from the Cupertino giant.  To say that this individual has had his fingers in some very important pies is an understatement.

Jim now rejoins AMD as CVP and Chief Architect of CPU Cores.  He will report directly to Mark Papermaster.  His primary job is to improve execution efficiency and consistency, as well as implement next generation features into future CPU cores which will keep AMD competitive with not only Intel, but other rising competitors in the low power space.  This is finally some good news for AMD as they are actually adding talent rather than losing it.  While Jim may not be able to turn the company around overnight, he does look to be an important piece of the puzzle with a huge amount of experience and knowhow with multiple CPU ISA.  If there is anyone that can tackle the challenges in front of AMD in the face of a changing world, this might be the guy.  So far he has had a positive impact in every stop he has made, and perhaps this could prove to be the pinnacle of his career.  Or it could be where his career goes to die.  It is hard to say, but I do think that AMD made a good hire with Jim.

Source: AMD