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Lisa Su holds up AMD's next-generation graphics chip for the data center. Photo: AMD

AMD founder Jerry Sanders was fond of flashy suits and boasted of his manufacturing prowess. "Real men have fabs," he would say, referring to the costly chipmaking plants that AMD operated.

Current CEO Lisa Su presides over a very different AMD. It's one that still aims to rival Intel in powering the world's most capable computers, as it did under Sanders — but Su's AMD focuses on design and strategy, leaving the actual manufacturing to partners like foundry Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing.

  • Su said that making its own chips was actually holding the company back, adding technical uncertainty and financial risk to the business.
  • "That was part of the inconsistency in the company, frankly," she said.

Why it matters: AMD is looking to establish itself as a credible long-term player in markets like the data center, where customers want to know that their supplier not only has a competitive chip at the moment, but a strategy that will remain competitive for several years.

  • Still, Su says there are things that unite her and Sanders, including a belief in making big bold bets on technology.
  • "Our personalities are quite different," she said. "Our ambition for the company is quite similar."

Picking its spots: Whereas Intel has pursued everything from chips for cellphones and IoT devices as well as a number of consumer electronics markets, AMD is focused on chips for PCs and servers.

  • "We're not doing drones," she said.

She also spoke out on several other topics during our interview last week.

  • On diversity in tech: "There’s a lot more we need to do," she said. But she said tech does have the opportunity to be an egalitarian field. "It’s one of the reasons I love engineering. It's pretty black and white. Either you deliver the product or you don’t."
  • On her upcoming speech at CES in January: "I’m proud that AMD is going to be on that stage," she said, adding that she knows AMD has the challenge of being less well known than many big tech companies. "Hopefully after CES they will know what they do."

Go deeper

1 hour ago - World

Mapped: The world's most and least corrupt countries

Expand chart
Data: Transparency International; Map: Jared Whalen/Axios

The most corrupt governments in the world are in South Sudan, Syria and Somalia, according to Transparency International's annual index, while the "cleanest" are in Denmark, Finland and New Zealand.

  • Breaking it down: The U.S. is 27th, China 66th, India 85th, Brazil 96th and Russia 136th. Scroll over the map to see each country's ranking.

Crypto leads to massive surge in online scams

Expand chart
Reproduced from FTC; Chart: Axios Visuals

Bogus cryptocurrency investments led to an unprecedented increase in online scams last year, according to new data from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Why it matters: Cryptocurrency is an easy target because while it's surging in popularity, there's still a lot of confusion about how it works.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
3 hours ago - Health

New clues emerge on long COVID

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

The presence of certain autoantibodies or high amounts of coronavirus RNA in the blood could be indicators a patient has a higher chance of developing long COVID, according to a new study in the journal Cell.

  • Other factors include a person having Type 2 diabetes or the reactivation of the Epstein-Barr virus.