AMD to spend $135M on chip R&D in Ireland for AI, data center, mobile tech

A year after AMD acquired Xilinx, the chipmaker has announced plans to build on the semiconductor ecosystem Xilinx had already established in Ireland.

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AMD has unveiled plans to invest $135 million over the next four years in several strategic research and development projects in Ireland. To support its R&D efforts there, targeted at developing technology for data centers, networking, 6G infrastructure, and next generation AI, AMD said it will hire 290 engineers and researchers, in addition to a number of additional support roles.

The news comes a year after AMD paid $49 billion to acquire fabless semiconductor company Xilinx, which has been running manufacturing and engineering operations in Ireland since 1994.

The Xilinx acquisition was seen as a way for AMD to bolster its ability to serve data center AI workloads — particularly in machine learning — an area where it has traditionally lagged behind Nvidia. Prior to the acquisition, Xilinx had partnered with IDA (Industrial Development Agency) Ireland on a number of occasions to advance semiconductor innovation in the country. 

AMD said Ireland has become home to one of the largest AMD R&D sites in Europe, overseeing the production of a number of semiconductors, such as the AMD Zynq UltraScale+ RFSoC, which is used in 5G and LTE wireless infrastructure.

“For nearly three decades, Ireland has been a flagship European R&D centre developing adaptive computing solutions, drawing from a strong and highly-skilled workforce,” said Ruth Cotter, senior vice president of marketing, communications and human resources at AMD, in a statement. “By further investing and expanding our presence in Dublin and Cork, we are committed to continuing to both drive innovation in Ireland and to support the European semiconductor ecosystem.”

Focus on data center, mobile comes as PC market declines

The focus on mobile communications, the data center and enterprise-oriented technology like networking and AI workloads comes at a time when PC sales are declining. At the beginning of May, AMD reported a year-on-year revenue drop of 9% during its first financial quarter of 2023. The decline was mostly due to the slumping PC market, which according to IDC saw shipments fall by 30% in the first quarter of the year. As a result, AMD’s sales from PC processors fell from $2.1 billion in the first financial quarter of 2022, to $739 million during the equivalent quarter this year.

However, AMD did see growth in its data center segment, with sales hitting $1.295 billion, a small increase from $1.293 billion during the year-earlier period. Additionally, revenue in AMD’s enterprise, embedded and semicustom segment, which includes server and embedded processors, technology for game consoles, and semicustom system-on-chips (SoCs), grew from $967 million to $1.6 billion year over year.

Speaking to analysts after the results were reported, Jean Hu, executive vice president and CFO said this growth was partially due to additional revenue from the company’s purchase of Xilinx.

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