AMD’s take on the past year and plans for enterprise IT
In the consumer space, we have seen a massive increase in demand as people work or learn from home. We sat down with Roger Benson to ask him questions about the past year, what he’s learned, and his plans for 2021.
We asked: Across all of AMD’s commercial product lines and segments, workstations, laptops and server processors as well as workstation GPUs, what are the long-term trends that are transforming industry? What will their impact be?
About the Author
Roger Benson is Senior Director, Commercial Sales, EMEA at AMD.
AMD is focused on delivering winning solutions on premise and in the cloud. Together with our partners, we produce excellent hardware infrastructure solutions to meet the on-site deployment needs of enterprises.
AMD focuses on traditional cloud architectures and hybrid solutions and we work closely with these vendors as well as ISVs such as VMware, to enable the highest levels of cloud security.
Cybersecurity is a key area for AMD that spans our server product line through our customer product line. We offer secure encrypted virtualization, which is the basis of confidential computing. Most of the confidential IT services offered by Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure are powered by our technology.
In the consumer space, we have seen a massive increase in demand as people work or learn from home. AMD helps here too in terms of security and manageability features. Our AMD PRO security technologies provide additional layers of security to ensure people can work remotely and manage their data.
What role does the cloud play for AMD? How important is the public cloud in this regard?
Enterprise IT wants the best of both worlds, so it can easily move workloads between on-premises data centers and the public cloud. We work closely with independent software vendors to ensure hybrid cloud solutions work well for customers when running on our processors.
What does AMD expect from GAIA-X? How important is GAIA-X to AMD?
AMD is a member of the GAIA-X eco association. While we will contribute to the specifications of the federated multi-cloud environment envisioned by Gaia-X, our intention is to ensure that the infrastructure standards as defined remain as open as possible. We believe open standards are in the best interest of cloud providers and end users. Open standards allow workloads to be moved freely between cloud providers without customers being tied to a vendor or technology.
Many end users place great importance on data sovereignty, security and privacy. The security expertise we have for the cloud and elsewhere can help guide GAIA-X in defining its operating framework. We’re working with the project to make sure that as the standards develop and operate, it stays as open as possible.
There is strength in diversity and realizing that strength requires a lot of close collaboration, allowing everyone to work together as effectively as possible. Europe will need a common and open approach to remain competitive. International companies must be able to operate freely across the European landscape. Businesses shouldn’t feel like they need a one-country and one-for-another approach.
This can be a positive aspect of GAIA-X if it is well defined and openly. People using the standard will be able to operate in the cloud without restriction, potentially even in multi-cloud environments with multiple vendors, all of whom have subscribed to GAIA-X standards. This will allow businesses to operate freely, smoothly and compete internationally.
What is AMD doing to make sure it isn’t left behind in the race for AI?
Organizations can use our AMD EPYC server processors to support decision making or AI inference workloads. They can also use our family of AMD Instinct Data Center GPU products to support AI inference, as well as deep learning training workloads. AMD will focus more in 2021 and in the years to come on expanding this GPU portfolio, it will be an incredible asset to grow our business in the AI segment.
What are AMD’s plans for 5G technologies?
The global telecommunications infrastructure industry has evolved into software-defined networks in recent years. Many telecommunications solutions are now based on standard commercial servers from international OEM server manufacturers such as HPE, Dell, Lenovo and others. We have worked closely with these OEMs and major telecommunications operators such as Nokia and Ericsson. We believe the way forward is simply to take advantage of this software-defined transition, using standard vendor servers.
How has AMD factored customer priorities into product design and how it works with key partners such as OEMs and the chain?
We listened to partners who told us there was a need for high performance as well as energy efficiency. Energy efficiency is key, whether you’re building a data center or just wanting longer battery life from your laptop. AMD has put a lot of effort over the past few years to ensure that we take advantage of the latest manufacturing processes, such as 7nm technology. There is also the architectural design that AMD has designed from A to Z to reduce energy consumption. This represents a massive reduction in electricity consumption for our customers which has a dramatic effect on their bottom line and operational management. For individuals, this increased efficiency is part of the reason they can use their laptops for much longer without having to recharge.
What is AMD’s strategy to drive adoption of its commercial technologies?
The most fundamental is awareness. Once companies try AMD, they realize the benefits. We use an x86 architecture that is fully compatible with our competitor’s software so end users can seamlessly switch to AMD without having to worry. We have been successful in building market confidence in AMD’s long-term commitment to businesses, delivering multiple generations of successful products across server and client lines. This is paying off, as AMD is now regularly considered for proofs of concept, leading to volume deployments of our products to servers and customer fleets for enterprise IT.
What steps are you taking to strengthen relationships with channel partners and integrators?
We are aware that the entire value chain is important. We have increased the staff of our distribution organizations around the world to ensure a consistently good experience. AMD works closely with its main customers in the client and server areas. Rather than operating in silos, we discuss and compare our ratings to make sure we’re doing our best to take care of all of our channel partners. This means delivering the quality content they need, the right incentive programs, and the educational materials for their local customers, end users and integrators. Through a combination of OEM partnerships with the chain and striving to make all of our hardware and programs best in class, we continually strengthen our relationships with chain partners.
For customers who have switched from a competitor to AMD in the past, what strategies have worked from an AMD, OEM, or channel partner perspective?
We win when we can encourage an open willingness to try AMD among customers, because once they try, we find that they move to AMD-based systems at a very high rate. We work closely with partners, OEMs and customers to facilitate proof of concept. In some cases, we work closely with software vendors to ensure the solution is tuned and optimized for their needs, while getting the most out of the performance of our products.
Can you tell us something about AMD’s workstation and server product roadmaps? What should the market be watching over the next year?
Keep an eye out for other OEMs announcing workstations using AMD technology this year, based on AMD Ryzen Threadripper PRO and EPYC processors. You will see new AMD EPYC-based products using the Zen 3 architecture in the data center and cloud industries, as well as broader product and service portfolios from our OEM and cloud partners.
How does OEM and ISV feedback play a role in AMD product development?
We listen carefully to our customers at all levels, from end users who are trying to solve business problems, to OEMs who also work closely with them. For example, over the past two years, we’ve released performance-optimized versions of our AMD EPYC server processors. These are used for situations where clients require very high frequency, very low latency, and very high overall performance per core.
We did this in response to customer feedback for specific use cases, like users of CAD and data automation applications who told us this is what they need from a processor. . This is how AMD adapts to the needs of individual segments and listens to our OEM customers and end users when creating new products.