AMD to Intel: Take our GPU talent? Two can play that game

Mike Burrows exits Chipzilla to lead advanced graphics at Radeon biz

Intel has hired a lot of top graphics talent from rival AMD to build out its discrete GPU business, though apparently it's now AMD's turn to take from the semiconductor giant.

On Tuesday Mike Burrows announced on LinkedIn he had left Intel as a graphics executive about a month ago after 14 years at the chip maker. He added that after looking at several "opportunities," he then opted to join AMD this month to lead its advanced graphics program as corporate vice president.

"It is very much aligned with my principles of open innovation to help progress the intersection of future hardware and real-time gaming and [the] graphics industry," he wrote.

AMD did not immediately respond to a request for extra information.

Burrows's most recent title at Intel was CTO and director of the Advanced Technologies Group for gaming and graphics, according to his LinkedIn profile. Prior to joining Intel in 2008, Burrows worked on Microsoft's Xbox game console and DirectX software.

In announcing his new role at AMD, Burrows provided a description of the job, which said the program is "chartered with pathfinding disruptive technologies in the areas of real-time graphics and computation and developing product plans for delivering these innovations to market." These technologies include ray-tracing and machine learning, which have become indispensable features for GPUs at AMD's main graphics rival, Nvidia.

Nvidia's RTX graphics cards were first to market in 2018 with real-time ray tracing capabilities, which realistically simulate the way lighting and reflections work. Nvidia also relies on deep learning for its Deep Learning Super Sampling technology, which allows its graphics cards to boost performance in games with AI rendering techniques.

AMD released its first Radeon graphics cards with real-time ray tracing in 2020, and it has since introduced super sampling capabilities in its GPUs, albeit without any AI smarts.

Other graphics technologies under Burrows' purview at AMD include scalable graphics and computation as well as compression and data streaming technologies. Development of these technologies will result in "prototypes and models of the software and hardware" required to create new products.

The job requires Burrows and his team to "deliver compelling innovation into the market with the maximum impact for both AMD and the industry."

AMD's hiring of Burrows comes as Intel plans to launch its first discrete GPUs for gaming at the end of April, efforts of which have required the hiring of big talent from AMD. Intel has already announced plans to provide ray tracing and AI-fueled super sampling capabilities in its first wave of graphics cards, which are headed for laptops.

Intel's efforts to take on AMD and Nvidia in discrete graphics received a major boost in 2017 when it hired Raja Koduri, the former chief architect for AMD's Radeon Technologies Group.

Koduri has since become essential not just for Intel's discrete GPU efforts but also for the company's broader ambitions in accelerated computing as the general manager of Intel's Accelerated Computing Systems and Graphics Group.

Other AMD graphics executives hired by Intel include Vineet Goel, head of Intel's Xe Architecture and IP Engineering Group; Ogi Brkic, head of Intel's Super Compute product line; Ali Ibrahim; director of platform architecture and engineering for discrete GPUs; and Masooma Bhaiwala, head of discrete GPU system-on-chips.

AMD has hired top executives from Intel in the past few years, most notably Dan McNamara, who leads the chip house's Epyc server CPU business, though El Reg hasn't seen as much evidence of AMD taking graphics talent from Intel. One notable exception is Martin Ashton, who left Intel to become senior vice president of graphics architecture and Radeon Technologies Group intellectual property development in 2018. ®

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