Tech Data Authority had the pleasure of sitting down with two market leaders at AMD: Dennis McQueen, Product Marketing Manager, and Greg Gibby, Sr. Product Manager. Both shared their rich histories in technology, why they joined AMD, and what’s ahead for ground-breaking company in the computer processor space. Read on for more!
Hi Dennis, thanks for joining us. Take us to the start of your career. What ultimately brought you to technology?
Thanks for having me! I started as a college intern majoring in engineering, and later worked as a manufacturing engineer. My work constantly exposed me to new products, and I fell in love with the technology side of it. In the late 1980s-early 1990s, we saw tremendous advances in how products were built. I ultimately migrated to the design side. It was an intuitive switch because, having spent time in manufacturing, I knew how to build with ease. I later transitioned to the business side and became a product manager. It’s been a great ride.
Your role as a Product Marketing Manager for AMD sounds exciting. Tell us about it.
My role is focused on content. I’m always thinking about developing and delivering content that helps our sales teams tell the AMD story in a compelling way. I work closely with multiple teams who support our training partners (internal and sales), developing content that educates, trains and equips the sales field. I get to create and collaborate with a number of smart segment leads, developing proof points and fine-tuning individual stories for our suite of solutions.
AMD began as a start-up in 1969 and has steadily developed into a global company with over 10,000 employees. From your perspective, what makes AMD a success?
If I had to say it in one word, it’s innovation. Our culture is focused on helping to make a difference in the world. By bringing inventive, new products to the marketplace, we do things differently: we consistently push the status quo, raise expectations and deliver products that provide answers to challenges and solve problems.
We believe that risk-taking is at the heart of innovation. We’ve placed big technology bets and, as a consequence, leapfrogged ahead. A key example is seen in our 7-nanometer (nm) processors (used in semiconductor manufacturing to build chips). Over the last 15 years, we’ve seen significant transition from one size (nm) to the next. Each one brings improvements in performance.
Two years ago, the industry’s focus was on 14nm technology. Many of our competitors went to 10nm technology, but we went directly to 7nm. We took a calculated risk and we executed it well. As a result, we doubled our capabilities.
Dennis, in what ways does AMD excel in the server category?
Our servers pack exceptional processing power with strong power efficiency. That’s how we deliver. To date, our processors have won over 140 Guinness World Records. And I believe it’s because of our focus on a balanced architecture; we achieve strong performance at a compelling price point.
Furthermore, when we designed our servers, we focused on ‘hardened at the core’ protection elements – in other words, we built security directly into the silicon itself. We embedded a sub-processor into the design itself, ensuring maximum security right in our server hardware.
Greg, let’s transition to your side of the story. Tell us what brought you to the Data Center Products division of AMD.
I’ve got a long history in tech, and spent almost 18 years in various roles at Dell. What brought me to AMD is the company’s vision. I was compelled by the strength of the company’s solutions, and the vision of where AMD wanted to take those solutions into the future. I wanted to be a part of that momentum. I saw joining AMD as a once-in-a-career opportunity. It’s everything that Dennis spoke about earlier – the innovation, the vision. I looked at the company’s roadmap and saw that plans were sustainable. And now, with Lisa (AMD’s CEO, Lisa Su) at the helm, AMD is in a terrific position to lead with authority.
We spoke earlier with Dennis about AMD’s position as a market leader in servers. What pain points do server buyers have, and how does AMD help to address those challenges?
What look at what keeps people up at night, and we consistently see three key pain points: performance, security and ease of ease. To us, performance is table stakes. If you don’t perform, you can’t play. Our strong workloads are a testament to our performance. Next, it’s security. As Dennis mentioned earlier, security is built into the silicon. Add to this secure memory encryption. When it’s enabled, the secure processor will issue a key, which is used to encrypt the traffic that goes into main memory. Today, traffic is all encrypted. When sent to the main memory, it’s in clear text – it’s exposed. AMD realized that’s a challenge, a point of vulnerability. So, we created AMD Infinity Guard, a solution that mitigates the vulnerabilities associated with secure memory encryption and protects the main memory space.
The third pain point we address is around ease of use. We want our customers to be assured that whatever they order from AMD is going to work. We want them to have confidence knowing that when they purchase an AMD server and put it into their data center, it will work with their existing applications. Ease of use is directly tied to the balanced architecture that Dennis spoke about earlier. We have great performance at the core level, but when we looked at application levels, we addressed the different bottlenecks that can occur. It’s not enough to have a powerful and fast machine – if you can’t access data, applications won’t run. We recognize that up front, so we designed processors with eight memory channels. This strategy ensures that users can get data to the processors and it can do useful work. Within each memory channel, we have an embedded encryption engine – so, when we encrypt data, it’s hardware-accelerated encryption.
Our ability to successfully address our customers’ key pain points is a direct reflection of the three areas in which AMD has substantial leadership: 1) hyper-converged infrastructure and software-defined infrastructure; high-performance computing; and relational databases. We want our customers to be able to conduct analytics and research, to handle vast IT workloads, to increase capabilities and broaden usage. All of it translates into direct value – we can help consolidate, reduce licensing costs, and drive scalability across solutions.
Greg, lets shift gears. How does AMD’s culture of belonging help to support the needs of the channel – from reseller partners, buyers and distributors all the way to end users?
As Dennis said earlier, it’s our culture of innovation that drives a strong desire to help our customers. First, we make sure they have access to best technology and solutions on the market. We work with solution partners to get the word out, and commit to training and enabling our partners with the most up-to-date information, so that they’re aware of the solutions and the value AMD can bring to customers. And, we help to find ways to have those critical and meaningful conversations with our customers, so that they know the benefits they can put into their data center. Innovation is at the very core of our culture. Over the next five years, we have a strong pipeline that will allow us to accelerate. We’ve got a great story going forward – one that goes beyond the data center and brings cost-effective, game-changing performance, innovation and security to our customers.
About the Author
Dena Koklanaris joined Tech Data in 2018 and leads the company’s in-house team of copywriters and content strategists. She’s proud to hone her craft for one of Fortune Magazine’s “World’s Most Admired Companies.” When she’s not writing, you can find her on the beach or riding her bike.