AMD Poaches New Chief Graphics Product Architect, John Gustafson, From Intel

You have to hand it to Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) for continuing to fight, no matter how stacked the odds sometimes seem. It's been a rough couple of years in terms of losing top level talent, but lest anyone count the Sunnyvale chip designer down and out, AMD today announced the hiring of John Gustafson as senior fellow and chief product architect of the company's Graphics Business Unit.

If that name sounds at all familiar, it's because Gustafson has been working with rival Intel for the past four years, most recently serving as a senior architect heading the chip maker's eXtreme Technologies Lab. You might also recognize him as the inventor of Gustafson's Law, which has to do with a paper he wrote in the field of parallel computing.

John Gustafson

"Our industry-leading graphics technology predicates that we consistently deliver the most differentiated and superior graphics processor unit (GPU) architectures and products - without compromise," said Matt Skynner, corporate vice president and general manager, AMD Graphics. "With the growing importance of parallel compute in defining the computing experience, John brings the full package of industry experience and knowledge needed to help us expand and execute our AMD Radeon and AMD FirePro graphics technology programs, and will help forge an aggressive long-term roadmap that allows AMD to continue to lead and win with our gaming and virtualization technologies."

Gustafson's hiring is a welcome change after witnessing many high level executives jump AMD's ship. Eric Demers, AMD's former graphics Chief Technology Officer and head of the unit Gustafson is now in charge of, left the company in February of this year. At the time, he was the latest in a long line of departures that saw the likes of Dirk Meyer, Rick Bergman, Nigel Dessau, and Emilio Ghilardi all leave AMD. If all that wasn't enough, six weeks later, AMD lost Godfrey Cheng, a former ATI employee who served as AMD's Director of Client Technologies.

AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition

Not only is Gustafson's hiring a nice change of pace, AMD has to be thrilled that it can still attract top level talent that wants to work for the company rather than somewhere else.

"I look forward to working with my teams to expand the AMD graphics technology roadmap," said Gustafson. "The next decade will serve as a watershed era for GPUs in graphics rendering power and compute capabilities, creating the opportunity for multi-teraFLOPS APUs. In terms of raw performance, the evolution of discrete graphics has far exceeded that of the CPU, and the programmable characteristics of today’s GPUs have thrown open a door that could very well see it rival the CPU as the most critical element of computer performance in the near future."

In addition to bringing his background in parallel computing to AMD's graphics division, Gustafson also holds a master's and a doctorate degree in applied mathematics from Iowa State University, and a bachelor's degree in the same from the California Institute of Technology, AMD says. In other words, he's a smart cookie.