AMD’s layoffs target engineering

Board incompetence dooms the company

Almost a year ago, SemiAccurate said that the root of AMD’s problems was their board, and if that didn’t change, the company was finished. The board didn’t change, and their rank incompetence has almost assuredly doomed the company.

SemiAccurate has been following rumors of impending layoffs at AMD for over a month now. Given the impact that losing one’s job has on a worker, we did not see fit to write it based on a single source, so we waited. The corroboration was piecemeal with lots of somewhat conflicting information, but all the pieces have fallen in to place. Sadly, we can’t see a way for AMD to survive if things continue if AMD goes through with this debacle.

What is going on? The board is incompetent. They staffed senior management with toadies who would do their bidding rather than do the right thing, and most importantly not question their rather insane long term plans. Existing senior management left in droves, some were a net positive for AMD, but the overwhelming majority were not.

Now word comes through to SemiAccurate about the impending layoffs, and they will pretty much end any chance AMD has. Not simply the magnitude of the cuts, but who is being targeted. For sheer numbers, we have been hearing two versions, 10% and 30% of the company, with several sources giving closely related values. Sadly, they are both correct.

The minimum number is 10%, matching last year’s debacle that crippled the company. The 30% is on the engineering side, and Markham is the main target. AMD has gone on a disastrous cycle of cutting jobs and outsourcing, and it isn’t over yet. What so plainly didn’t work last time is going to be repeated in greater numbers this time. This is rank management incompetence.

Sources tell SemiAccurate that the one division of AMD that is making money, graphics, is going to have a lot of the engineering outsourced. The new crop of senior managers doesn’t seem to like the Canadian outpost much, and the result is going to be seen in the layoffs. Far from their being any logic to this move, it seems to be more borne out of personal fiefdoms than sanity, and will sink the company. There are a lot of names bandied about with Emile Ianni being named more often than others. We shall see who gets the bonuses soon enough.

The date SemiAccurate hears is October 25th, conveniently after the company’s quarterly conference call. If these layoffs happen as deeply as we hear, and more problematically where we hear, we can not see AMD surviving. As we said when Rick Bergman left, AMD management had better step up and explain their plan. They didn’t. It’s too late now. Unless the entire board and their puppets are removed in the next week or two, the little chance AMD has now will vanish. There is no up side here.S|A

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also available through Guidepoint and Mosaic. FullyAccurate