Former AMD boss Hector Ruiz has written a new book dealing with AMD’s never ending rivalry with Intel. The book is called “Slingshot” and subtitled “AMD’s Fight to Free an Industry for the Ruthless Grip of Intel.”
In the book Ruiz reflects on the David vs. Goliath battle against AMD’s (much) bigger rival. He recalls his decision to file an antitrust case against Intel back in 2005. The case was settled after Intel agreed to cough up a $1.25 billion settlement in 2009, but from today’s perspective, it seems like a small price to pay for unchallenged dominance in the CPU market.
Much of the book deals with AMD’s decision to take on Intel in court, in an effort called Project Slingshot. It cites numerous examples of big US and Asian PC makers being forced to reduce their orders of AMD products following Intel’s threats and sweetheart deals.
The book also states that Nvidia was AMD’s first pick when it chose to get into the graphics game. However, Nvidia President Jen-Hsun Huang priced the company too high and on top of that wanted to take over leadership of AMD. As we all know, AMD chose to buy ATI instead.
Other saucy details reveal the background of AMD’s Abu Dhabi deal, which eventually resulted in the Globalfoundries spinoff.
“If the Abu Dhabi deal were to fall through, AMD would not survive,” Ruiz writes. “I had to do everything in my control to make it happen.”
AMD survived, Globalfoundries is doing well, if not better than AMD itself. But the Intel antitrust settlement was a Pyrrhic victory and Ruiz says he found the decision disappointing.
“Although I never expected the lawsuit to go to trial, I harbored hopes that Intel would admit wrong-doing,” he writes. “I also believed AMD merited damages well beyond the $1.25 billion.”
Ruiz is a colorful guy. He was hired to replace Sanders in 2000 and took over in 2002. Think where AMD would be if Ruiz had bought ATI and taken out an ARM license instead of suing Intel. Ruiz was Sanders biggest mistake.
At Motorola, he was commonly referred to as "Hector the sector wrecker".
He resigned as AMD CEO after 7 straight quarterly losses. He did a quick tour as Global Foundries in 2009 but resigned under a cloud of insider trading allegations. He now runs a company, Bull Ventures, in SF that will benefit from the publicity.