AMD's Raja Koduri is stepping aside from the day-to-day operations of leading the company's Radeon Technology Group to spend more time with his family. Barring any further announcements going forward, this will be a temporary sabbatical starting September 25, with Koduri planning to return in December. In the meantime, AMD CEO Dr. Lisa Su will step in to lead the company's graphics division.
A knee-jerk reaction this news, as first learned by Fudzilla, is to assume there is drama brewing behind the scenes in light of AMD's Vega architecture not quite living up to the hype. However, that does not appear to be the case. The folks at PCPerspective confirmed Koduri's plan with AMD and managed to get its hands on a letter from Koduri that he sent out to his team. In it, Koduri talks about the time and energy involved in launching Vega, and how it has taken a toll on his personal life.
"At the beginning of the year I warned that Vega would be hard. At the time, some folks didn’t believe me. Now many of you understand what I said," Koduri wrote in his letter. "Vega was indeed hard on many, and my sincere heartfelt thanks to all of you who endured the Vega journey with me. Vega was personally hard on me as well and I used up a lot of family credits during this journey. I have decided to take a time-off in Q4 to spend time with my family."
Koduri says this is something he has been thinking about for quite some time now, and that while there is never a good time to take a quarter off, he and Dr. Su agreed that it was better to do it now than wait until 2018 when the "next wave of product excitement" kicks into gear.
This is an interesting situation for AMD. The company promoted Koduri to take charge of what was then a new and dedicated Radeon Technologies Group around this time two years ago. It has taken a bit of time for AMD to get back in the game, though as Koduri highlights in his letter, AMD has seen six straight quarters of double-digit growth in graphics. That is capped off with Vega making AMD competitive in the high-end GPU sector again, while Ryzen has done the same for AMD in the CPU market.
At the same time, Vega has received criticism for only bring parity with NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 1080, which is more than a year old at this point. There is also the cryptocurrency situation—both AMD and NVIDIA face the challenge of appeasing gamers while digital coin miners gobble up graphics cards at an unprecedented clip. Koduri addresses these and other topics in a rapid-fire Twitter storm a couple of weeks ago, though there was no indication at the time that he would be taking time off.
If we are to take Koduri's letter at face value, none of the above matters—he will be back and ready to spearhead whatever is next, while AMD slides into cruise control for the remainder of the year. The timing in that regard makes sense, as NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang recently confirmed that we will not see Volta until next year, and that his company plans to push Pascal for the remainder of the year. If ever there was a blip in time where Koduri could afford to take a few months off, now is it.