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AMD CEO: Our processors are more affordable than Intel's

JP Mangalindan
Chief Tech Correspondent

Despite some recent concerns over security flaws in its chips, AMD (AMD) is poised for another solid year.

The Austin, Texas-based chipmaker announced half a dozen new desktop and laptop processors sporting major performance upgrades over the past year, priced at a fraction of Intel’s (INTC) chips. “Our goal is to make sure that we provide step-function improvements for our customers,” AMD CEO Lisa Su told Yahoo Finance during a wide-ranging conversation at CES 2018 last week. “If you look at our Ryzen product line, for example, at every price point we offer more threads, more multithreaded performance.”

At CES 2018 last week, AMD claimed one of its Ryzen products, which puts computer processing and graphics on one chip, offers comparable data-crunching performance to an Intel Core i5-8400 with Nvidia GT 1030 graphics card, but for $120 less, translating to significant savings for shoppers who want to save a few bucks without compromising computer performance.

AMD CEO Lisa Su

“The idea that you can game in your mainstream notebook was really important to us with our new mobile processor,” said Su. “We’re absolutely focused on bringing a new level of performance for the end user.”

Indeed, AMD’s consistent aggressive pricing, performance improvements and renewed focus on computer processors and graphics chips explain why the company’s stock has climbed nearly 14% over the past 12 months and a staggering 415% since Su took the reins in June 2015. AMD also managed a huge coup on the console gaming front, as its chips are used exclusively in Sony’s (SNE) PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro, as well as Microsoft’s (MSFT) XBox One and Xbox One X home consoles.

For Su, it’s less about sheer chip performance and more about the experiences those chips provide, from gaming to virtual reality and augmented reality. And while AMD’s chief executive remains extremely bullish on both virtual reality and augmented reality, she concedes VR still has room for improvement.

“What has held [VR] back a little bit or kept it from what’s called more ‘mainstream’ is just how do we get the experience good enough — the good enough experience inferring that you’re getting the full immersive experience without any side effects,” Su explains, referring to side effects some VR users may still experience, such as dizziness and disorientation.

Also, let’s face it: many VR headsets still look clunky and unwieldy.

Once we get wireless headsets out there, I do believe VR … not just AR … can be a driver for us over the next few years,” Su added.

Will technology eliminate jobs?

Chips from AMD, Intel and Nvidia (NVDA) are also powering newer technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine-learning and automation. And while society is poised to benefit from such technologies, there are also concerns those very same technologies will displace millions of jobs. According to Forrester Research, 16% of U.S. jobs will be replaced by 2025, while the equivalent of 9% new jobs will be created — a net loss of 7% of U.S. jobs by 2025.

“What machine learning is doing, it’s just helping us become more efficient and effective,  and that’s a good thing,” adds Su. “It’s a good thing for us to be able to process a lot more data. It will make it easier for us to make decisions based on that data and I still believe you you need really smart people to make those decisions. … I think jobs may change, and there’s a skill set issue and a training issue that we just might go through. But fundamentally, technology is making us better.”

JP Mangalindan is the Chief Tech Correspondent for Yahoo Finance covering the intersection of tech and business. Email story tips and musings to jpm@oath.com. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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