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Last year AMD was hemorrhaging talent. While we don't have a good indication of the extent of the talent exodus, Qualcomm seemed to benefit quite a bit from the tough times that had fallen on AMD. AMD PR mounted the beginnings of a turnaround with the announcement that Jim Keller, former K8 architect and chip-head at Apple had rejoined the company. Then came John Gustafson and last month, we got word that Raja Koduri rejoined as well - also after a multi-year stint at Apple. 

Today I just got word from a couple of very accurate and trusted sources that my old friend Sean Pelletier will be joining AMD as well. Sean will abandon his role as Senior Technical Marketing Manager at NVIDIA to assume a similar role at AMD, initially focusing on GPUs. Reporting on individual hires doesn't actually tell you a lot about talent within a company, but it can give insight into whether or not a company is viable. Not too long ago, leaving Apple, NVIDIA or pretty much any other tech company to join AMD sounded like a career death sentence. The fact that smart folks from all paths are considering AMD as an option for long term employment tells us a lot about how things have changed.

Update: I just got word that Sean ended up back at NVIDIA. He sent me a message after making the decision saying that there wasn't anything wrong with AMD, but that the fit simply didn't feel right. 

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  • Gigaplex - Monday, May 20, 2013 - link

    AMD has an OSS driver but it's not feature complete (power management biggest omission) and doesn't perform as well as the proprietary one. Reply
  • tecknurd - Monday, May 20, 2013 - link

    AMD's drivers are not open source. AMD just provided some documentation and let the open source community hack at it to make the graphics card come to life. There are two drivers a Linux user can use. One is fglrx which is a closed-source driver written by AMD. The other is radeon that created by the open source community and Xorg. Using the radeon driver in Linux has some support for 3D, so using AMD graphics for playing games on STEAM will be 50% chance of working and 50% of not working. Using fglrx driver may work often in STEAM, but it may also crash more often than the radeon driver. Reply
  • lmcd - Wednesday, May 22, 2013 - link

    Wrong. AMD employees do significant work on the FOSS AMD drivers. Radeon does well on many Steam games (R600g and R300g both perform near their proprietary counterparts). 50% is skewed incorrectly -- games will work 90% on Steam games with FOSS. Framerates may not be quite sufficient but that isn't "not working."

    Proprietary drivers are buggy, but they are compliant *cough* Nvidia *cough*.
    Reply
  • Calinou__ - Thursday, May 30, 2013 - link

    Suddenly: the HD7000s. If you get more than 4 FPS with them with radeon, you're lucky. 8) Reply
  • mayankleoboy1 - Tuesday, May 21, 2013 - link

    Both AMD and Nvidia open source drivers suck terribly. They have piss poor perf and usually cant downclock/upclock .
    The only difference is AMD provides support for developing these opensource drivers, while Nvidia provides absolutely no support whatsoever.
    Reply
  • alwayssts - Tuesday, May 21, 2013 - link

    I understand your viewpoint, but surely they must be planning to keep linux support, for what it is, up to date.

    Heck, they released the strings for Hainan to the open-source stack and we still have no idea when that will be actual products..the official driver still refers to it as the vague 'R503' last time I checked. While one can absolutely argue gpu performance and feature disparity in Linux (across all brands, not just AMD), I fail to see how their cards will brick with an update. Support, again for what it is, seems to be consistent if not proactive.
    Reply
  • medi02 - Thursday, June 06, 2013 - link

    So, nVidia is somehow better at supporting Linux eh?
    Wouldn't have thought so after this:
    http://www.ubergizmo.com/2012/06/linus-torvald-say...
    Reply
  • HisDivineOrder - Monday, May 20, 2013 - link

    First, why not giant-sized image of the man's face? I mean, the fanboy article about Raja was like an obituary on the man's every accomplishment, his awesomeness, the fact that he enjoyed long walks on the beach, etc.

    This one seems rather brief. Shouldn't Sean get equal amounts of fanboyism? He is... Sean Pelletier after all. This is Sean Pelletier we're talking about here!

    Haha, anyways, the thing that amuses me about this is how the article ignores the very real possibility that AMD could hire all these people for the short term gain of hiring a single high profile individual to convince investors of a company's longterm viability. Certainly, getting rid of teams of engineers, marketeters, etc while hiring four people seems like they're NOT equal in terms of how much it helps or hurts a company.

    But hiring high profile names that are years away from any meaningful difference in the company's day to day and by every account they don't have years... well, that suggests to me they're hiring people to prop their reputation up in the hopes of investment... or buyout.

    And one of those two happens (or bankruptcy), these guys are free to leave with a lot more money and join Qualcomm.
    Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Monday, May 20, 2013 - link

    Actually, for what Sean does, his presence in the company could be felt much, *much* more immediately, and essentially solves a serious problem that AMD has had for years. Understand that he's been one of our primary contacts over at NVIDIA for a long time and has been able to answer product questions and get us help extremely quickly. This isn't something we've (or at least I've) had as readily available from AMD.

    So while the end user may not immediately feel the difference, the press absolutely will.
    Reply
  • Peanutsrevenge - Monday, May 20, 2013 - link

    I doubt that these guys would be jumping aboard a sinking ship!
    If you had a healthy choice of successful companies to sign up to, would you pick one that was sick and dying with the chance it would infect your career?

    I do hope AMD turn around their CPU division (not APUs as they're fine, I mean high performance, halo CPUs). I've also had a soft spot for them and I've put them in all the SoHo Linux servers I've built and they've been rock solid. Just finished first mITX/APU server 30 mins ago.
    Reply

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