Matt Skynner is a man with a vision. According to his press bio, he joined AMD with the acquisition of ATI in 2006 and previously was Vice President of Product Management for AMD’s Graphics Products Group. Now, as AMD’s general manager of graphics, he’s the guy managing one of the brands that AMD is best known for and has lead the unit to a number of wins on the graphics and gaming fronts during the past year.
Hardware Canucks sat down with Matt Skynner at Computex in Taipei to discuss all things gaming and graphics:
AMD’s chips are powering the next-generation game consoles. How will this change AMD’s role in the next four to five years, and what sort of advantages does this present to the company?
We’re really excited to work with Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. That’s cool. We’re using the console success as a leverage point for success in other markets. How do we look at it? Games are developed on the console first. Those games are ported to the PC. If you go back, whenever games are developed on your hardware, when those port over, they are going to run great on our hardware. We hope its a better experience on the PC, on our hardware because of this development. That’s key. You saw this when we were first to market with DirectX 11. All the DirectX 11 games were developed on our hardware and we really had a huge advantage in the beginning especially on DirectX 11 games. That hardware link is really important.
Given the fact that both these consoles are x86 powered, do you think PC will be better developed and better looking considering the console-PC development cycle?
I think its a good thing for development in general. I think for developers it makes it more efficient because the base architecture is similar and that’s very good for them on development costs and porting. Therefore they can spend more time on the game.
Moving to the PC hardware sector, what are your primary focuses for your upcoming graphics architectures?
Our focus is gaming. I talked in the keynote why the gaming market is important. It’s important because the gaming market drives our hardware more than anything else both from a performance point of view — its the games that really push our hardware — and from the type of features we bring to market. So, our architectures going forward are going to focus on improving the gaming experience.
How do you believe that the gaming evolved initiative gives you a leg up over the competition?
Well there’s a couple of things. One is focus. Over the past year and half, two years, we’ve really focused on this as being important to us as we develop this strategy. We’ve invested in developer relations engineers, and so we have what I believe is the best set of engineers that can work with developers. That’s important. The other thing is that we want to bring value add to the developers. A great example of that is TressFX. For the developers of Tomb Raider we brought a technology and worked with them and they said ‘hey this is cool let’s work together and get this in the game and make the game look better’. And it does. Laura Croft’s hair looks awesome. Working closely with them really as a team and bringing value add, that’s the secret to our success.
Watch the interview with Matt Skynner here:
Who else has committed to using TressFX in their titles?
One of the things I talked about today was the Ruby demo. The Ruby demo is being done on Cry Engine 3. Getting it into game engines is really important because that can be leveraged into future titles.
Why did AMD end its schedule of monthly driver releases?
Our Catalyst drivers have been very successful in the past. We’re finding that we should release drivers as needed as opposed to a monthly basis.
As the desktop and enthusiast market shrinks and everyone’s slice of the discrete GPU share gets reduced, how does AMD plan to distinguish itself from the competition?
The PC market has had some some contraction, but I still see the enthusiast market as healthy. If you look at game revenue, when these games come out they’re doing like a billion dollars in 15 days. It’s major stuff. Those are enthusiasts that are buying those games. And so I believe that the enthusiast and gaming market is very healthy going forward.
How are we going to distinguish ourselves? Focus on gaming. That’s the main thing. We think that our unified gaming strategy is something that the competition can’t match. We are working closely with game developers, bringing our Radeon game solution, leveraging our console wins, so that we lead in the console, client, and cloud, we’re going to distinguish ourselves. I think we’re doing that.
Why can’t NVIDIA match this plan AMD has?
Because they don’t have the opportunities in the consoles that we have.
A recent article from ExtremeTech claims that NVIDIA does not want consoles because the margins are too low for their liking. Your thoughts?
I can’t comment. We love the business. I think NVIDIA says they don’t want the console business…that’s the gaming business. We care about gamers. We want gamers. We want that business. I think we just have a different focus.
What is AMD’s defining challenge right now?
I think the challenge is always executing on your plan. I talked today about a graphics point of view, that’s what I’m really focused on, is we have a unified gaming strategy and I talked about how we’re executing it. We gotta continue to do that. It’s not gonna get any easier, we have a tough competitor, I gotta continue to fight and continue to go forward.
I never believed that. I think we have great IP in this company from a GPU and APU point of view. I think we have a great leadership team. And I think we have a great vision, and I think we’ll continue to prove those haters wrong.