AMD Lightens CEO's Load

Dirk Meyer will assume the company's No. 2 role as it keeps the heat on Intel.
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Advanced Micro Devices

(AMD) - Get Report

chief Hector Ruiz is sharing some of the power.

The Sunnyvale, Calif., chipmaker announced Monday that Dirk Meyer will assume the role of president and chief operating officer. Ruiz will relinquish the president title to focus on his role as chief executive officer, in which the company said he will continue to be "fully engaged."

"Dirk has played an essential role in AMD's rise to the position of technology and innovation leader in the microprocessor industry," Ruiz said in a statement. "His leadership, operational skills and business acumen have positioned the company for long-term, sustainable growth, and I'm very pleased that AMD now will benefit from those skills on an even grander scale."

The 44-year-old Meyer's selection to be the second-in-command at AMD is not altogether surprising, given that he has led the company's flagship microprocessors division, serving most recently as president and chief operation officer of AMD's Microprocessor Solutions Group.

Following the recent spinoff of AMD's flash memory division with the

Spansion

(SPSN)

initial public offering, the selection of Meyer further underscores AMD's concentration on microprocessors, says Stifel Nicolaus chip analyst Cody Acree.

Sales in AMD's microprocessor division grew 79% in the fourth quarter to $1.31 billion.

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

, the world's largest chipmaker,

acknowledged that AMD gained some market share during the period.

The promotion may be a way to recognize and reward Meyer for AMD's recent strides and to help retain him for the long term, said Acree, whose firm has counted Intel as a client within the past 12 months.

Meyer joined AMD in 1995, and began his career at the company as the director of engineering for the Athlon microprocessor development program. Prior to joining AMD, Meyer worked at Digital Equipment Corp., where he was co-architect of a couple of the company's Alpha microprocessors.

Analysts said the splitting of the CEO and president roles is a natural progression as AMD evolves into a larger and more mature company. As it increases spending in research and development and other areas, the company will need to fill out its managerial ranks, said American Technology Research analyst Doug Freedman.

"I would expect to see further management structural changes," Freedman said, "

but nothing that would make me think that anything is going to change, per se, in the strategy and the way the company is operating."

Ruiz will retain his position as chairman of the board.