How Lisa Su brought AMD from the brink of bankruptcy to the top of its game

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Even though the company was bleeding money, laden with debt and staring down a potential bankruptcy, becoming chief executive of chip maker Advanced Micro Devices was a dream job for Lisa Su.

"When you grow up as a tech person — and I spent my career in semiconductors — there aren't that many large US semiconductor companies. So I was really excited to become CEO," Su told CNN Business. She liked that she could walk around a Best Buy and pick up a laptop, knowing that the microchip or processor her company built was powering it.

Not everyone would have been so enthusiastic. When Su took the helm of AMD in 2014, its stock was heading toward an all-time low.

But Su, now one of the most powerful women in tech, likes a challenge. She says that's why she became an engineer in the first place. She had to make bold bets — some of which wouldn't begin pay off for five years — to turn AMD around.

"The reason it takes so long is it is extraordinarily complex," Su said. "Our latest chip for data centers is actually 40 billion transistors ... you've got to get every single one of them right and there's just a lot of engineering to do that."

Su, who holds bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, decided the company would go big on building technology for high performance computing applications. That set AMD up to power crucial next-generation tech including cloud computing, data centers, artificial intelligence and gaming.

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AMD definitely have seen their own share of the ups and downs. Not sure if their new subscription model for the games would work for the company. But considering they are spending a lot of resources I hope the earning of the AMD stays consistent because they have kept the market interesting.
 

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