On 9 January, Lisa Su, president and CEO of Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), presented her first keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada. With 4,500 exhibitors from 155 countries, the world’s biggest consumer technology conference showcased innovations ranging from functional to hedonistic. There was Google and Amazon, of course. And rollable TVs. Self-driving suitcases. Bluetooth turntables. Capsule-based beer brewing machines.
So when the lights dimmed, the drumroll commenced and people cheered as Su, 49, held up a palm-sized microprocessor a little over an hour into her address, one wondered what the fuss could portend.
In her hand was a prototype CPU (central processing unit) from the third-generation of the Ryzen processor family that was launched in early 2017, on the back of which AMD has gone from an also-ran to wresting market share from dominant rival Intel. In the three-and-a-half years since she took charge at AMD, one of the two major makers of the chips that power personal computers, the company has gone from the brink of bankruptcy to recording its best quarterly profit in seven years and winning plaudits from Wall Street.
For 2019, Su has set her sights on getting Ryzen to power 30% more devices than last year. And India—a market ever hungry for a better deal—could play an important role.
AMD chief technology officer Mark Papermaster said last August that India is now its biggest market in the commercial PC category (computers for corporates and the public sector). This means AMD, through partnerships with PC makers such as HP, Dell and Lenovo, won more tenders in India than ever before.
And then there’s the booming Indian PC gaming market, expected to hit $1.1 billion next year, coupled with a growing tribe of millions of gamers and PC-building enthusiasts on a budget. Government tenders for hundreds of thousands of computers. And AMD is only too happy to cater to all of these markets with products that undercut Intel on pricing but, for the first time in nearly a decade, are comparable in performance.