AMD’s history has been well documented, especially given several reorganizations in the early part of this decade along with changes in senior staff and how both its market share in CPU and GPU markets is progressing. Today we have learned that one of those senior staff, the head of the CPU group Jim Keller, is to leave AMD effective September 18th (today).  Readers may remember that Jim Keller was a recent re-hire in 2012, tasked with leading AMD's CPU group and helping the company develop new core processor architectures in order to bring AMD's architecture in line the competition.

Jim Keller has worked at AMD before, most notably developing the K7 and K8 processors that formed the basis of much of AMD’s success at the turn of the century. This includes assisting in the generation of the x86-64 instruction set that would form the basis of many of the x86 based computers people used today. At other points in time Jim has also spent several years each at Apple helping design their A4 and A5 SoCs as well as at DEC on Alpha processors, giving him a wide degree of experience in CPU development that AMD has been tapping during his latest tenure there.

As a re-hire at the top of the CPU chain, Keller's latest project at AMD was to develop the next generation of high performance processors for AMD and to build a team around the concept of PC performance. This was announced as a rapid departure from the module design of Bulldozer-based cores sharing parts of a processor and towards a new base architecture called Zen. Other projects in the pipeline at AMD CPU group include ARM-based AMD processors (K12), an ARM counterpart of sorts for Zen that is set to launch later on.

As for the big question, the state of Zen, along with confirming that Keller is leaving the company today, AMD is also officially reiterating that their roadmaps are still on course, with Zen set to come to market in the latter half of 2016 and a first full preiod of revenue to be reported in 2017. Given the long (4+ year) design cycles for a modern high-performance CPU, at this point in time all of the "heavy lifting" on Zen development should be done. With only a year or so to go before launch, the rest of Keller's team at AMD will be focusing on fixing bugs and bringing products to manufacturing.

As a result while the loss of Keller is certainly a significant one for AMD, Keller's architecture work on Zen should already be complete, which is likely why we are seeing him leave at this time. And as a quick aside to give you an idea of CPU development timelines, by comparison, Jim's work on K8 was done over 3 years before K8 shipped in 2003. Consequently the biggest loss for AMD here shouldn't be Zen-related, but rather that they won't have Keller's talents to call upon for further refinements of Zen or for a post-Zen architecture.

Meanwhile leadership of the CPU architecture team in Keller's absence will be turned over to CTO Mark Papermaster, who will be leading the group as they wrap up work on Zen. AMD is calling Mark the "acting leader" of the group, so this is likely an interim posting while AMD looks to find or promote someone to lead the CPU architecture group on a permanent basis. Otherwise as we're approaching the end of the fiscal quarter, AMD is in their quiet period, so AMD is limited in what they can say at this time. I suspect we'll hear a bit more on the plan for the final year of Zen development in the company's Q3 earnings release, which will be on October 14th.

Finally, it will be interesting to see if and when Keller will pop up next in the industry. Given his history of switching jobs to work on new CPU projects and his high level of skill which has allowed him to so freely move between companies, we may yet see Keller show up on another CPU project in the future. On the other hand after having worked for AMD twice and Apple, Keller has certainly earned an early retirement. In the meantime with the launch of Zen closing in for AMD, all eyes will be on just what Keller and his team have put together for AMD's next generation CPU.

Source: AMD
Top image (from left): Mark Papermaster (CTO), Dr. Lisa Su (CEO), Simon Segars (CEO of ARM), Jim Keller

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  • Spunjji - Tuesday, September 22, 2015 - link

    Alexvrb attempts to assemble "Straw Man".
    Alexvrb has encountered a grotesque logical inconsistency!
    Alexvrb's attack fails.
  • pklop - Sunday, September 20, 2015 - link

    "Caucasian is in a position to determine who was a 'proper minority' who deserved to get heard."
    Caucasian is not a race, check your facts, this is old terminology.

    And white people are certainly a minority in many countries, actually they are a minority on the world scale.

    And feminism does a lot of bad things for males, and females are not a minority. Feminism is not about equality, and everyone who observes it and is willing to see what happens, can see that.

    "The idea that those who are among the class most often responsible for the oppression"
    Who is oppressed and who isn't is a question of debate. Considering all the feminist teachers working on kids more than 30 years, you can hardly say they aren't oppressing males in school, for which there are indeed indicators.

    So stop talking in general and defining others as incapable of mistakes, just because they fight for something. Actually, those who fight are bound to make mistakes, and getting overprotective is quickly turning into dictatorship.

    Think about it for a while and open your eyes.
  • MisterAnon - Sunday, September 20, 2015 - link

    Sounds like you've been reading too much MRA propaganda. There's nothing wrong with Anita Sarkeesian, and there's no such thing as a "femnazi movement".

    Neckbeards just hate because she has a voice and has the guts to critique media and games. They prefer the women who stay quiet.
  • pklop - Sunday, September 20, 2015 - link

    At least you show that your argumentation has not more substance than them... simply repeating what your camp says. When she starts to critique the male role models, not because there is some purposed patriarchy (I'd like to see who actually belongs to this purpoted club....), or as something men want, but lobbies for a more varied representation of male or in general people types, then we are fine.

    The representation of males in the media is less than favorable at least. Nothing you can identify with, nothing.

    What she tries is to push through *her* ideals, which is not about equality, but her thoughts about how men and women should be, this is preaching and being a missionary, not giving different kinds of people the right to live and express themselves.
  • Reflex - Sunday, September 20, 2015 - link

    Sorry, I couldn't understand your words over the sound of this very tiny violin...
  • lmcd - Sunday, September 20, 2015 - link

    You do realize that belittling him only validates him further, right?
  • Reflex - Monday, September 21, 2015 - link

    Perhaps to you. I just don't see a point in continuing to engage, he is not actually responding to what I write, he is making up his own supposed oppression to respond to.;
  • D. Lister - Saturday, September 19, 2015 - link


    Sttm may not appreciate that insight of corporate process but I do, cheers.
  • Reflex - Saturday, September 19, 2015 - link

    No problem, I think Sttm would have to give up virtually all of his non-China developed tech toys if he is sincere about believing this is discrimination. Virtually all of the big players in the US and EU take gender and diversity issues seriously to varying degrees, and have programs in place to incentivize the same things as Intel. I have been in the industry since 1995, and I haven't worked anywhere without extensive HR training on topic since prior to 1999.
  • pklop - Sunday, September 20, 2015 - link

    Diversity is not about skin color, but personality types. And there it's clear that the non-tech personality and fluff type is getting more and more popular in domains where it doesn't belong.

    This is not about diversity, look at their ads and you see what kind of "marketable" people they choose. All lifestyle, all cool, no substance.

    I personally find that discriminating, media in general pushes this kind of superficial qualities, adding different colors to it doesn't make it more varied.

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