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HTF Interview: Mr. Charlie Boswell of AMD

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#1 of 4 OFFLINE   Sam Posten

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Posted July 30 2008 - 05:37 PM

An interview with Charlie Boswell of AMD

About a week back I got a curious email from the PR reps we deal with on a lot of DVD and BluRay news, one with an open invitation to interview Mr. Charlie Boswell of AMD. Now remember I am not a journalist but I am a huge tech head and I like to get a line on all kinds of neat new things so I immediately took them up on the opportunity noting that I would be approaching it from a consumer perspective. We got the OK on that and Mr. Boswell and I got to chat for a leisurely 45 minutes via phone. I think I got to pick the man’s brain from just about every perspective that would be interesting to the typical HTF reader in that time!

So, first a few notes from the information I was given beforehand: “Charlie has worked with everyone from Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Festival to Dweezil Zappa to Peter Frampton to recording and filming this year’s Pure Volume stage at SxSW. On the film side, he has also worked with directors George Lucas and Robert Rodriguez.” Sounds like just the right kind of guy for HTF, right?

And he blogs too! Er, at least he has a blog, and it’s got at least one entry so far:
Charlie Boswell

“I believe the most important computer you’ll ever own is the one that sits on your shoulders. I also believe you should judge harshly any technology or technology culture that dares to come into that rarefied atmosphere of your mind where the creative process begins.” Yup, this is the kind of guy we need to hear more from!

As it turns out, Mr. Boswell’s team are the chief evangelists for the AMD 64 Live! Platform, which can be found here:
AMD LIVE!: Digital Audio and Video Solutions for Creative Professionals

So why is AMD interested in reaching out to consumers like us at HTF? As he explains it, AMD has made significant inroads with the content creators, the Robert Rodriguezes and George Lucases of the world and has focused on getting them the tools to help them achieve their visions. The Live! Platform is the next logical step in helping bring those creative visions fully intact to the consumers. Their vision is not so much in ensuring that the hardware burns up every time trial but that the overall experience is carried through in a holistic way.

This is kind of daring given that Apple seems to have a lock on the low and mid tier creatives and those who especially desire an elegant computing experience but Mr. Boswell notes that he himself is an ex-Apple head and the PC has gained tremendous market share because of the terrific price/performance ratio while picking up the pace on the experience end of things, and AMD has been at the forefront of this.

When talk turned to why consumers should choose AMD over market leader Intel, Mr. Boswell reiterated that AMD has some key technologies that they say help differentiate them from other big players like Intel (and Apple), particularly their Cinema 2.0 suite and a line of Digital Audio Workstations that utilize their Puma chipset that acts as an end to end plat form, a kind of holistic design for the whole pipeline from content creation to consumption.

The AMD philosophy of giving the CPU direct access to Memory and I/O has also paid tremendous dividends and this is an area where Intel is just beginning to head, and AMD has been at the forefront of 64 bits before even Microsoft was prepared to support it in their OSes. Fair enough, I suppose, but the million dollar question is whether AMD Live! (or Intel’s competing VIIV platform) are sufficient for hardcore tech heads or just good enough for those who want multimedia solutions in an integrated box. My experience points to the former and of course AMD is happy to help on that end with a full line of performance workstation platforms as well..

Wrapping up our conversation I engaged Mr. Boswell on what I saw as the fatal flaw to this utopian digital pipelne: the use of DRM schemes to limit consumers and hopefully prevent piracy. Here he was a bit reserved on the corporate side but frankly open when putting on his own consumer hat. AMD clearly has the needs of content creators in mind first and foremost, and that extends to helping them make sure that they are compensated for their creations, but AMD doesn’t really have a horse in the DRM race per se. Of course their platforms can be employed by users on both sides of the fence and Mr. Boswell expressed his own frustrations at the limitations the current batch of tools has where users rights are concerned. Again, I got the idea that this guy ‘gets it’ and that’s at least a start.

Mr. Boswell promised that he would be surfing by the HTF and would look forward to talking to us again in the future, I hope that happens, we can never have too many friends on the inside of these industries, especially those who understand where we are coming from as consumers.


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#2 of 4 OFFLINE   Mike Frezon

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Posted July 31 2008 - 12:49 AM

Interesting, Sam!

And for this non-"tech head", you've presented the conversation in a light this consumer can understand.

I wish AMD luck. I've had AMD processors in most of my home PCs...mostly due to price considerations and have never had an issue with a single one of them. Great performers.

I gotta believe it's good that Intel has such stiff competition in the marketplace.

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#3 of 4 OFFLINE   Sam Posten

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Posted July 31 2008 - 04:24 AM

Precisely Mike, even if you don't personally own AMD computers (and I do not, myself!) they are a driver keeping Intel in check and we consumers benefit from that in the end. As far as I'm concerned they don't even have to match up spec for spec dollar for dollar, they just need to keep the pressure on and it motivates both companies and others to keep pressing on. I was a bit concerned when AMD swallowed up ATI cause I felt the same way about that race, but so far it seems like there havent been any major drawbacks to that.

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#4 of 4 OFFLINE   Parker Clack

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Posted August 02 2008 - 08:17 PM

I am a huge AMD fan. I have been since they acquired NexGen and started to see them in computers by HP. I have used them since the K5 and have had zero problems with them. I was actually glad to see AMD acquire ATI as I felt that they would be able to bring some very cutting edge performance to video cards needed for HD video and X10.

Thanks for the interview with Mr. Boswell. I hope to see him posting on the forum.

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