In a conversation with Dataquest, Vinay Sinha, Director, Enterprise Business, Asia Pacific & Japan, AMD, talks about how semiconductor industry transforming the technology space and what is AMD's business plan. Excerpts:
Q. How is semiconductor industry transforming the technology space?
We are now entering a new era defined by billions of connected devices. If you look at the major trends in the IT industry – like VR and AR, artificial and machine intelligence, deep learning, self-driving vehicles and cloud computing – they have one thing in common: they all require vast amounts of processing power to manage the explosion of data resulting from these technology implementations. In addition, new forms of financial management that leverage blockchain for applications like cryptocurrency and banking ledgers will expand demand for high performance computing. As a result, there is an incredible resurgence in overall semiconductor demand.
The promise of this new era to transform our economy will also be based, in large part, on the ability of the semiconductor industry to provide high-performing and efficient semiconductors that can connect billions of smart devices across government, industry and the consumer marketplace. It is key to advance the use of internet of things (IoT) principles to a growing number of applications such as industrial systems, smart cities, inventory management, medical displays, and point of sale.
We used to rely on Moore’s Law – i.e. every 18 months you could double the number of transistors in an integrated circuit and increase performance – this has slowed down. Semiconductor process nodes, now have to be designed in such a way that you are putting more types of solutions together on a single chip – heterogeneous solutions with different types of compute solutions (CPUs, GPUs, FPGAs and other specialized processors), more aggressive use of different types of memory, and combining all this for hardware and software system optimizations. We will see this type of engineering innovation in 2018 and beyond to stay on the historical Moore’s Law pace. You will also see innovative approaches to system engineering for CPU / GPU and other compute elements so that they function optimally.
Q. There have been increasing conversations around high performance computing. What is AMD’s roadmap in this domain specifically in India?
Across the globe, consumer demands have changed in the last few years. Today, they want higher computational power, better graphics and visualization technologies that enable them to overcome PC limitations. Understanding this, our focus this year is on HPC and our product line-up – from our Ryzen CPUs, EPYC chips and Radeon Instinct GPUs – are now the building blocks for a new era of Deep Learning and HPC datacenters.
Our legacy is and will continue to be built around delivering high-performance products at competitive prices that offer high functionality and provide the best experiences possible. With over 200 system integrators, 80 motherboard partners globally and design wins from all top-tier PC OEMs, we have established ourselves with a strong marketing push.
Our CPU’s power the best price to performance computers in the market today. Through collaborations with our strong partner base in India, we are helping start-ups, small and large organizations, government departments and public at large, access these products. We are democratizing the market by giving the end users in India, a choice to buy high performing yet affordable PCs. Over the course of this year and next, you will continue to see innovative AMD products that push the boundaries of what is possible.
Q. From a market perspective, what is your assessment of the Indian market? How is the market classified and what are the key growth drivers?
India remains one of the few markets in the world where the size of the PC market continues to grow. The growth is coming from both consumer and commercial segments. We do not share region specific market data but as per IDC, AMD’s overall market share grew from 14% in 2016 to 18% in 2017. In Enterprise Business Space i.e. deployment of AMD-powered systems in private and public-sector companies, the share was an all-time high at 29% in FY17. In fact, India was a large contributor to our commercial business. Growth in the commercial space is coming from state-owned manifesto deals. State governments are investing in computer systems under various schemes to enable the last mile computing access for programs and services under Digital India, apart from Digital Inclusion and furthering education. There is also high demand for powerful PC systems in the BFSI space.
On the consumer front, there is a growing demand for premium PC systems in India, like the one powered by AMD’s Ryzen CPU’s. People are also spending on Gaming PC’s and convertible laptops. We have seen great success with all major OEM partners – HP, Dell, Acer, Asus. In the Component business i.e., sale of discreet CPU’s and GPU’s – market share of our newly launched Ryzen 7 against i7 was more than 30%.
The country is also a key region for Datacenter market growth. As this country of 1 billion becomes highly digitized, organisations need robust, secure datacenters to store trillions of bites of data being generated each day. India is poised to become the second largest data center market in Asia-pacific by 2020 on the back of government’s digitization initiatives and the increasing penetration of internet connectivity.
After having re-established ourselves as a high-performance computing leader in 2017, we will continue to build on this momentum, with new processors that bring more features and more performance to cater to the growing demands of mobility devices in the country. We will be looking at new form factors that can leverage more computational capabilities at lower power, a key focus for India. Our recently launched Ryzen Mobile processors will help us take a step further in this space. Additionally, we are also working with our OEM partners to bring thin and light notebooks, delivering long battery life and fast performance.
Q. What is your business plan for 2018?
In 2017, we re-established ourselves as a high-performance computing leader with the introduction and ramp of 10 different product families – AMD’s strongest portfolio of the last decade. In 2018, we will build on this momentum with our next wave of premium products that bring more features and more performance to a broad set of markets. People are using our products and seeing the tremendous value we provide. We will continue the momentum by focusing our marketing efforts to communicate the innovation we bring to customers through high performance PCs that offer outstanding value per dollar.
At CES 2018, AMD announced its first desktop Ryzen processors with built-in Radeon Vega Graphics, and a full line up of Ryzen mobile APUs, including the new Ryzen PRO and Ryzen 3 models. We expect to have a 12nm, 2nd generation Ryzen desktop CPU by the April timeframe. In graphics, we will expand the "Vega" architecture-based family with Radeon Vega Mobile GPUs. This razor-thin GPU is designed to enable new, powerful gaming notebooks in 2018 with extraordinary performance and incredible efficiency. We will be sampling the first 7nm product, a Radeon Instinct Vega GPU specifically built for machine learning applications.
The server market will also be a big focus area for us in 2018. Last year, we re-entered the server market in a big way with our EPYC processors. We brought innovation back to the market with a high-performance processor with groundbreaking system features and unique security allowing for a truly differentiated system creating substantial TCO opportunities for end customers. HPE, Microsoft Azure and Baidu have announced EPYC processor-based deployments and we are expecting to expand this customer base in 2018.
We have shown that with our Ryzen, EPYC and Vega products, that we are in the right markets and we can deliver great products. With consistent execution, I believe AMD can be one of the best growth stories in the semiconductor industry over the next few years.