The WSJ reported Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ:AMD) may be in advanced talks to buy rival chipmaker Xilinx (NASDAQ:XLNX). I wrote an article in response to that rumor why it could be an interesting deal and subsequently invited semiconductor expert Philip Freidin if he’d be willing to be interviewed by me for Seeking Alpha.
Philip worked 10 years both at AMD and at Xilinx. At both companies Philip held a product planning role. Product planning means identifying and articulating market requirements that define a product’s feature set.
In semis, that means you have to communicate with end-users and try and predict what their needs will be 3-4 years down the line. Then you have to translate that into product development or “bets” that do well for your company.
This is the second installment of a three-part interview. I’m thrilled to have been able to interview Philip about Xilinx and AMD.
In the first part of the interview, we start with the basics. He explains what Xilinx’ specialty product, the FPGA, is good at and what it’s not so good at.
He also explained how these chips function in a fundamentally-different way that helped me understand why they are fantastic in certain use cases.
Then we get to why FPGA usage has been growing but it hasn’t exploded yet. Philip’s explanations lead me to the conclusion we could be going through an inflection point in the coming years.
He talks about how Xilinx became the leader in the space and why Altera is a respectable main competitor while others are quite far behind for now.
Like others, he’s surprised regarding the rumors. He isn’t immediately convinced it makes a lot of sense from a product perspective, but there are areas that would need to be developed further, where the companies could potentially benefit from cooperation under one roof.
Higher-performance SoCs are very important to AMD and Philip speculated that the company could be interested in Xilinx’s latest iteration of its Silicon interposer technology which is the same as the 2.5D packages mentioned above.
We get into Versal ACAP and whether that’s a gamechanger for Xilinx and whether FPGAs can be combined with CPU’s on one die. Philip also is kind enough to answer several reader questions.
Because it runs very long I’ll release the full interview in three installments. These take time to edit, get ready, upload and go through the editorial process.
Enjoy it when you have time to enjoy long-form content and contemplate the next paradigm shift.
I know these long-form interviews are not for everyone. If you do enjoy these interviews please like, subscribe, and share the video. It makes all the difference to our guests, knowing people are interested to hear from them, learn from them, and will be inspired by them.
Philip will look at the comments, so give him a shoutout, and if you have a question for him that I didn’t get to or didn’t ask, throw it out there.
Bram de Haas writes the Special Situation Report. He looks at special situations like spin-offs, share repurchases, rights offerings and a lot of M&A events. If you are in a good mood follow him on Twitter here or reach out through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclosure: I am/we are long XLNX. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.