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AMD’s Project WIN Strategy Revealed… Sort of

AMD Headquarters in Sunnyvale, CA.

A lot of media outlets posted stories based on mythical business strategy that was supposed to be revealed on November 9th, 2011. We have seen rumors about ARM processors, "the new AMD" etc. The truth is a bit different – and you might already know it.

The base for all of these stories is a letter to surviving employees from Rory P. Read, AMD's CEO. The quote is as follows: "transformation work we have underway, like Project WIN, will help drive operational improvements, increase efficiencies and lower our operating costs," followed by "I will share more insights into our strategy and path forward in my upcoming Worldcast on November 9th."

The question is, what Project WIN actually is. Is it "AMD ditching X86 for ARM", is it "AMD preparing to sell the company"… while it may be all of that, the reason why you haven't heard a thing on November 9th was the sad fact there was nothing to announce.

According to our sources, since Rory fired practically the whole PR and Media team, and there was no person in command that could talk to the press and financial analysts about the announced Worldcast. Project WIN is actually an accounting review of the company. WIN was always about laying off the 1400 employees i.e. 12% of the company. During the planning stage, people involved pitched it as 10%, same percentage was what Intel did back in 2006.  In fact, 12% was always planned and those extra 2% represented an additional 20% to the overall layoff figure. Some of the people involved in the revision were laid off as well, a testament to how good they did their job.  

The purpose of the layoffs was the removal of bureaucracy that slowed down the innovation process inside the company, also known as "the AMD sludge" (we heard that particular term coming out of employees at Markham, Sunnyvale, closed Santa Clara office and Austin). AMD's CEO wants that the company becomes a whole lot faster and efficient.

Our sources told us that the problem for this alleged strategy is that while the laying off two thirds of marketing was "an ok move", but the company got rid of large number of engineers as well, with more GPU engineers than CPU staying with the company. Sunnyvale and Markham are now GPU and Chipset centers, while Austin's CPU teams got seriously cut.

One of problems ahead is the fact that a certain upcoming chip got cancelled as well, but not because it underperformed, but rather because the chief architect moved to a certain semiconductor vendor that is entangled in a patent battle with Apple. He was joined by fellow engineers and there was nobody left to head the program.

At current point in time, a lot of information coming out of former and current employees sounds like doom and gloom. Business-wise, outlook is a bit different. All we can say at this point is that AMD is making same executive changes as much bigger companies such as Microsoft, Intel, Boeing, General Motors and many more. Ultimately, they all came out stronger in the end.

What Rory needs is a new spark in the engineering department. Will that spark happen? Your guess is as good as ours.

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