A couple of weeks ago one of my oldest friends in the industry, Godfrey Cheng, announced his resignation from AMD. Godfrey came over from the ATI side of the house to be a Director of Technical Marketing for AMD's client technologies. In the past I worked with Godfrey on everything from All in Wonder to UVD to CrossFire. Today I just got word that Godfrey joined Rick Bergman, another ex-AMDer, at Synaptics as a VP of Marketing.

I never quite understood the move to Synaptics, even when Bergman made it, until Godfrey's call to me today. He brought up an interesting point. A couple of years ago I wrote about an internal AMD project to build a first-generation Holodeck by 2016. The project was spearheaded by another ex-AMDer, Carrell Killebrew. At the time I was focused mostly on the compute aspects of making it happen, but Godfrey and Bergman's move to Synaptics finally clicked with me today.

I was in an unrelated meeting earlier today where I was discussing an extremely compute intensive problem with an engineer. Much to my surprise, the engineer told me that the problem we were discussing didn't require more compute than we had available today - it just needed an unbelievable amount of memory. In other words, the innovation necessary to solve this particular problem was secondary to compute.

That brings me to the Holodeck and a recent trend in the sort of innovation we've seen in the computing industry. The hard computing problems will continue to be solved by the AMDs, Intels and NVIDIAs of the world, but they've done such a good job over the past decade that the auxiliary players will now need to start playing a bigger role. We've seen this with the rise in importance of display technologies, but I suspect that companies like Synaptics that build touch and human interface controllers will also have the opportunity to move into the spotlight. Whether or not they do is another question, but the need for better interface technologies will only increase in the coming years.

I'm sure Synaptics pays well enough to attract good folks from companies like AMD and elsewhere, but I have to believe that a a not insignificant part of Godfrey and Bergman's decisions were motivated by the potential for a company focused on the human interface side of the problem. 

Good luck and we'll be here to cover the progress.

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  • wtfbbqlol - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    There's so much good background information, and new insight packed into a relatively small number of words. A lot of tech journalists could learn a thing or two from your style. Please keep it up.
  • mfenn - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

  • mrbean1500 - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    +1 haha

    the guy just sits at home all day and posts his opinion on a news site...
  • nsiboro - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    Anand, please do share more of what's cooking in that wonderful mind of yours.

    Good insight.
  • Wolfpup - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - link

    Yeah, interesting article, but I still don't understand why-everything else being equal-someone would move from a company as exciting and at the forefront of technology as AMD, to a company that doesn't seem to do anything interesting at all.

    I mean maybe the pay was better, or he didn't like his coworkers or something, or it was closer to family, or who knows what, but otherwise I don't get it.
  • Sabresiberian - Saturday, April 21, 2012 - link

    I'm not so sure all of AMD is about being at the front of technology. I wonder how much the "don't risk too much by spending a lot of money on development, and compete with price instead" mentality has to be fought to get anything new done in AMD. Getting bone tired of fighting that kind of turtle thinking could be a reason for wanting a change in pace, as it is.

    Also, I don't think other, less demonstrative companies aren't just as exciting. Synaptics may not blow their horn to the general public as much as AMD, but that doesn't mean they aren't working on their own ideas - which is suggested in Anand's article here.

  • Fujikoma - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    If they started with something smaller to demonstrate viability. Possibly... build a touch screen chess board where the hologram pieces move/fight like battle chess did, a cookbook that shows how to zest/cut/pare along with showing the recipe, medical devices that show a patients internals where the doctor could remove layers from their desk... there's a lot they could play with just to get the ball rolling.
    I think the other companies need an incentive to build better product, like making money supplying parts for the next tech. hit. As debatable as Apple products are, they are pushing screen technology. The gaming, entertainment and CAD industries have been pushing the graphics industry. Bad coding has pushed the memory and storage industries for years.
  • Meaker10 - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    Synaptics make the only decent touchpads, so off to a good start there.
  • Einy0 - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - link

    Why are execs running from AMD like rats from a sinking ship? Is it really that bad? I have trouble believing Intel will continue selling 3Ghz Quad Core CPUs for $300 without AMD to offer an alternative. Perhaps ARM is the new Intel alternative. I doubt that... I still don't see the tablet taking over the desktop in productivity anytime in the next 5 to10 years.
  • JKflipflop98 - Thursday, April 19, 2012 - link

    The idea of a holodeck is dumb. Augmented glasses would be far better. You're still immersed in a virtual world, but you're not constrained to one certain room in your house to use it.

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