We expect more innovation from India: Forrest Norrod

Rajesh Kurup Mumbai | Updated on January 16, 2020 Published on January 16, 2020

Forrest Norrod, Senior Vice President and General Manager, (Datacentre and Embedded Solutions Group) at AMD

Forrest Norrod, Senior Vice President and General Manager, (Datacentre and Embedded Solutions Group) at AMD speaks on emerging opportunities in India and more

Buoyed by  the demand for high-performance computing (HPC) to support R&D efforts, US-based semiconductor major Advanced Micro Devices (AMD)  expects  opportunities to emerge in meteorological studies, manufacturing and finance, among others, in India.

Further, the telecom  sector readying to launch 5G will  increase the adoption of HPC server CPUs, said Forrest Norrod, Senior Vice-President and General Manager (Datacentre and Embedded Solutions Group), at AMD.

India has also played an important role  for AMD on the innovation front over the past six years, Norrod told BusinessLine in an interview.

What are the new challenges the advent of digitisation and emerging technologies has created for chief investment officers?

In the last decade, data centres have gone through a huge transformation, largely driven by cloud computing, explosion of data and the emergence of applications such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). Ensuring the security of end-user data remains a top concern for CIOs across the industry; scaling to meet new demands while keeping data secure and delivering lower total cost of ownership for virtualised environments are among the other priorities.

How is the data centre market evolving for AMD, in India and globally?

India is a key growth market for AMD. We anticipate opportunities in areas such as conventional defence, meteorological studies, manufacturing and finance, as there is a demand for HPC to support R&D efforts. We also expect the telecom  sector — which is strengthening its present 4G network and preparing for 5G — to drive adoption of high-performance server CPUs over the next two or three years.

Globally, the total addressable market (TAM) for data centres is expected to be $29 billion by 2021. Of this, the data centre  CPU TAM is estimated at $17 billion and data centre graphics processing unit (GPU) TAM at $12 billion. As the only company selling both high-performance CPUs and GPUs, we expect to continue to gain data centre market share in the coming years.

In August 2019, we launched the second generation AMD EPYC Server processor, an x86 data centre GPU-based on 7nm technology. Today, there are more over 100 second-generation AMD EPYC CPU-based platforms in production. In enterprise, we have doubled AMD EPYC-based server offerings from Dell, HPE, Lenovo and major ODMs compared with the previous generation. In cloud, Amazon AWS, Google, IBM Cloud, Microsoft Azure, OVHcloud, Tencent and Twitter have announced plans to deploy second-generation EPYC processors.

At present, what is AMD’s server market share? How do you see this growing in 2020?

We are currently in the high single digits and on track to meet our 10 per cent market share target in the second quarter of 2020. Long-term, we foresee this number continuing to increase in excess of 20 per cent. In India, we have witnessed a three-time quarter-over-quarter growth in the server business this year (calendar  2019). We expect this strong growth to continue with the second-generation EPYC.

How is AMD’s competition with Intel and the pricing pressure in general?

AMD revitalised the server market in 2017 with the launch of the AMD EPYC, challenging the status quo and reigniting competition. We believe our TCO potential with second-generation AMD EPYC is extremely compelling, especially when combined with performance leadership in areas that matter. The data centre is a margin-accretive business for AMD. When it comes to pricing, we believe enterprise application service providers are the highest, followed by HPC and  cloud. However, the volume of cloud deployments and impact on our bottomline are also important factors to consider.

To what degree is AMD using its server products in India for AI, MI, deep learning and cloud services?

At AMD, we have built a complete ecosystem with our ROCm open source software framework to accelerate the AI compute ecosystem, including deep learning and HPC. Globally, we are working with industry leaders such as Facebook and Google to drive Tensor Flow and PyTorch, collaborating with partners and national labs to develop HPC tools, compilers and AI frameworks, and forming partnerships with universities and research institutes. We are equally open to these opportunities in India.

What is AMD’s strategy for India this year?

India is an important region for data centre market growth. As this country of 1.4 billion becomes more digitised, organisations need robust and secure data centres to store trillions and trillions of bytes of data being generated each day. India is poised to become the second largest data centre market in the Asia-Pacific outside of Japan by 2020. This is fuelled by the digitisation initiatives  of the government and the increasing penetration of internet connectivity. Data-heavy sectors including e-commerce, e-Seva, finance, government, IT, manufacturing and telecom  present strong opportunities for AMD EPYC.

What is your take on the India engineering team’s role in building AMD’s server processors?

The India team has played an important role over the past six years as we developed a brand new x86 CPU microprocessor architecture — the Zen core. A significant portion of our CPU core development takes place in India, and some of our system-on-chip design for both personal computers (PCs) and servers.

Additionally, there is a large percentage of AMD software development that takes place here. We expect more innovation from India.

Published on January 16, 2020
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