Mario Silveira has been AMD’s head of business development for EMEA since March 2019, with responsibility for crafting the company’s go-to-market strategy and working with partners to ensure AMD continues to meet customers’ changing needs. Here, he tells us about the semiconductor company’s plans for 2021
Q: What are AMD’s priorities for 2021 and beyond?
Mario Silveira: A big part of AMD’s success is its relationship with partners, integrators and suppliers. As head of business development in EMEA, one of my main priorities is to build on the many strengths of those connections — strengths that I have witnessed first-hand during the pandemic. They will ensure AMD continues to grow, while protecting and improving the robust, resilient supply-chain relationships that are going to be so crucial to our success in the coming years. For instance, the roll-out of 5G in many markets is creating demand for new data centre hardware and technologies. There are no pre-existing preferences there, so AMD is tarting the conversation early. It’s our goal to become the leading supplier of data centre hardware. AMD is also heavily involved in designing hardware and systems on which to run blockchain.
Q: What are the biggest differentiators between AMD and its competitors?
Mario Silveira: We go the extra mile to make our customers happy. This ethos is most obvious when you think about AMD’s technologies. For instance, our research and development teams have done amazing work in producing the world’s first 7nm x86 processors and the subsequent ‘Zen 2’ core. This effort has borne fruit in the form of the AMD Ryzen Threadripper family, the world’s fastest high-end desktop processors.
AMD is also the only company to have high-performance CPUs and GPUs. The Ryzen 9 5900X Desktop Processors are the fastest desktop processors available. Similarly, AMD Radeon RX 5700 Graphics is one of the fastest graphics processors on the market today, delivering exceptional performance and high-fidelity gaming.
Q: Has the pandemic changed the market for computing hardware and associated technologies?
Mario Silveira: It has. Sales of desktop and laptop PCs have grown strongly in the last year, simply because so many people have had to work from home – initially, at very short notice. Many employers weren’t able to provide staff with the equipment they needed, hence the surge in demand.
Now that organisations have had a chance to take stock and review the situation, we are seeing more companies invest in new technology and devices directly, which will help people continue to adapt to a more distributed working model, with most companies investing in technology to enable more comfortable and effective remote working.
This trend is likely to continue. The pandemic has accelerated business digital transformation globally. Millions of consumers are working, shopping and playing online, so companies have had to adapt at speed. An awful lot of that adaptation has been made possible by technologies, such as virtualisation, that enable greater flexibility and scalability.
This, in turn, will increase demand for data centres, servers and more powerful and sophisticated silicon.
Factor in the trends towards big data, AI and automation and it’s an interesting time to be in technology, and especially in silicon design and manufacture.
Q: Across AMD’s product lines and segments (CPUs and GPUs – consumer, server, enterprise and games consoles) what are the long-term trends transforming the industry?
Mario Silveira: The biggest trend is towards performance. If you look at the enterprise market, for instance, you need high-performance graphics to enable virtualisation, cloud computing, AI and a lot of the other emerging technologies on which the next phase of business development will depend.
To give one example, if you’re going to virtualise most of your network infrastructure, rather than running a lot of separate hardware switches and load balancers, the server you run those virtual devices on needs to be high spec.
In the consumer space, deep-level improvements in our product architectures from the introduction of 7nm based designs (think Lego Technic, rather than Lego Duplo) have injected real movement into the race for performance. End users are, quite rightly, very demanding. If I am paying for a mobile device, for instance, I want it to give me the same kind of performance and experience I’d get from a desktop.
If that laptop is in my home office, that performance isn’t just for day-to-day office applications; it also needs to run Minecraft or Fortnite for when I kick back in the evening and play with my children. It’s the job of hardware manufacturers to keep up with these varied demands.
Finally, when you look at the sheer scale of data in 2020 and beyond, AMD is really gearing up in the data centre to handle the megatrends impacting business and society, such as artificial intelligence.
Q: How has AMD adapted its approach to better serve its customers in light of these long-term trends and COVID-inspired digital transformation?
Mario Silveira: We take pride in the fact that, together with our partners, we provide technology and products that the world needs now more than ever. Today, people are working safely and productively at home on AMD-powered laptops, using services running on AMD-powered servers, and searching for medical breakthroughs on AMD-powered supercomputers.
If you look at the technologies AMD is developing, we lead in high performance, security features and in the effort to make computing more sustainable, with our 25×20 Energy Efficiency Goal. This committed AMD to develop processors that are twenty-five times more energy-efficient than they were when the challenge was set in 2014. Our aim was to achieve this by 2020 – and we did. In fact, the third-generation AMD Ryzen Processor with Radeon Vega Graphics didn’t just meet the goal, it exceeded it.
We have also re-designed the AMD Partner Hub and Training Portal to address long-standing challenges our partners face; developed a virtual engagement model for AMD teams, equipping them for home working; and supported universities and research institutes throughout 2020 with the High-Performance Computing (HPC) Fund. So far this year, we’ve helped three universities set-up supercomputers for their COVID-19 research.
I’ve already mentioned the AMD Ryzen Threadripper processors, which easily deliver the best performance in their category. The same is true of our high-end AMD Radeon RX 5000 Series GPUs, which provide a premium gaming experience on desktop and laptop, and the AMD EPYC processors, which are currently the world’s highest performance x86 server processors. No matter what sector you’re in, AMD has the technology you need to master the challenges of the COVID and post-COVID environment.
Q: How has AMD factored customer priorities into the design of its products?
Mario Silveira: AMD involves partners in building its roadmap and listens to all its retailers, integrators and customers. When consumers demanded smaller, more powerful, but less power-hungry chips, that’s what AMD delivered. We know portability and power consumption are priorities for consumers, the latter for environmental and economic reasons. The ability to deliver what were previously considered desktop levels of performance on mobile devices helps meet rising user demand for a premium experience – regardless of the device.
As for our relationships with OEMs and system integrators; we’ve been working hard with them to generate awareness and demand for AMD products. That’s not difficult: these components deliver premium performance and they are priced to be highly competitive in the market. Often, it’s just a question of getting the word out.
Q: What steps are you taking to strengthen relationships with channel partners and integrators?
Mario Silveira: We’ve been working intensively on programmes such as AMD Arena, which provides our partners with the resources and support they need to successfully integrate and sell AMD products. For channel partners, we offer industry-leading training, as well as highly competitive incentives and rewards. I think everyone has seen that with the AMD Ryzen processors. Well, expect more of the same. Relationships work better when everyone wins.
As customers have recognised the strong product proposition that we’ve brought to market, it has massively stimulated demand for our products. To meet this demand, AMD is developing deep strategic partnerships with our distributors, with programmes built around having the right partners, in the right places, to do business in the right way. Bringing certainty to an uncertain market is very important to us.
Q: What are some of the reasons customers and partners give for switching to AMD from a competitor product?
Mario Silveira: Choice is incredibly important. With the introduction of the latest generation of Ryzen and Radeon products, customers are able to offer alternatives to their own product offerings. Competition is incredibly healthy and having a single vendor strategy builds in more risk to customers. Having a competitive scenario is usually a healthy approach in challenging times.
Again, the technology and the value for money speak for themselves. I don’t like the phrase ‘bang for your buck’ – it’s an industry cliché. But it’s true; you do get more bang for your buck when you choose AMD. Whether you’re a gamer or a CISO, who wouldn’t want that. From an integrator’s perspective, who wouldn’t want that as a sales story: buy from us and you spend less – and get more.
Q: What recent wins are you most proud of?
Mario Silveira: The particle physics research team at the CERN Large Hadron Collider recently chose to build the systems they use to crunch experimental data on AMD EPYC 7742 processors. That was really cool and brought out the science fanboy in me. As I think it would in anyone who works in science or technology!
AMD’s work with the High-Performance Computing Center in Stuttgart to create the 64-core Hawk computer was also a high point, as was the launch of the AMD-powered Mahti supercomputer in Finland. AMD is also the first company to deliver new generations of CPUs and GPUs, back-to-back, for game consoles.
Q: Any final thoughts you’d like to share with us?
Mario Silveira: I’m excited about 2021. I fully expect AMD to grow its market share once more in the next twelve months. We’ll also be working very hard to maintain our reputation for innovation. Whatever we do, I know we’ll owe much of our success to our partners. To end, I shall simply say, ‘thank you’ to all of them.