Newisys co-founder joins AMD as new CTO

Newisys co-founder Phil Hester will become AMD's new chief technology officer, replacing the man who developed Opteron and Athlon 64.

Advanced Micro Devices is getting a new chief technology officer (CTO), as Fred Weber steps down to pursue other interests and Newisys founder Phil Hester takes over the job, AMD announced.

Weber, who is credited with leading the engineering teams that developed AMD's Opteron and Athlon 64 processors, will leave the company after a transition period of several weeks and will then focus on new entrepreneurial opportunities, an AMD spokesman said. Hester will officially replace him on Monday, after 23 years at IBM and five years at his most recent job developing servers based on Opteron.

Opteron opened doors previously closed to AMD among server customers at enterprises around the world. The processor's 64-bit extensions to the x86 instruction set and integrated memory controller allowed the chip to outperform competing designs from Intel on certain applications, and it took AMD's processor shipment share in the server world from virtually nothing to more than ten percent earlier this year.

Hester plans to build on Weber's accomplishments during his early days at AMD, he said in an interview prior to AMD's announcement.

"Fred has done a good job with x86-64 [an early code name for the Opteron project]. You start with that as a foundation, and then build on that with great relationships with industry partners," Hester said. While at IBM, Hester ran the technology end of IBM's PC division for several years and was responsible for working with Intel, AMD, Microsoft, and Linux vendors to implement their technology in IBM's PCs, he said.

Hester, who will report directly to Dirk Meyer, president and chief operating officer of AMD's processor business, has several goals in mind for AMD's future processor development. He plans to work on building versions of Opteron for high-end multiprocessor servers, such as the 64-way Opteron servers that are in development at Newisys, he said. He'd also like to help AMD develop its new mobile processor effort, an area where AMD has yet to make the same progress against Intel that it has in the desktop and server markets.

"One of the things I really believe in is efficiency. That means software applications that can easily port and run [on AMD chips], efficient processors from a power management standpoint, and things that can be put into the silicon to make the user environment more friendly and robust," Hester said.

Hester's experience with IBM spans everything from mainframes to notebooks. He held management positions in groups that worked on IBM's RS/6000 and AS/400 servers and was chief technology officer of the company's PC division prior to founding Newisys in 2000. Newisys was acquired by manufacturer and distributor Sanmina-SCI two years ago.

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