Innovators & Influencers: Advanced Micro Devices' Larry Vertal

Vertal bridges science and marketing as he reaches across AMD to spur energy-efficiency efforts.

December 15, 2007

3 Min Read
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Is green computing here to stay? If Larry Vertal has a say--which he does at chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices and industry consortium Green Grid--energy-efficient computing will stay on every tech company's agenda.

While his title is senior strategist, Vertal is actually point person -- sometimes "lightning rod" -- for everything involved in AMD's green initiatives. He's also a board member of Green Grid, of which AMD is a founding member.

Consortia have a spotty record for impact in the tech industry, but Vertal sees reason to believe Green Grid--now with dozens of member companies--can make progress developing a road map, standards, and best practices for energy efficiency in the data center, and eventually for all computer devices.

Companies, including AMD's archrival, Intel, have a shared interest, so they're "taking off the boxing gloves" while working on green goals, Vertal says. "It's a rare chance to have an impact socially that's good and to work on the behalf of good business," he says.

A background in bacteriology and chemistry helps Vertal as he works with cutting-edge researchers, as well as the marketing pros. "I need to be a jack-of- all-trades to pull this all together," he says. "But my scientific grounding helps a lot."Vertal knows there's an element of fad in today's green movement. But there's also "real substance in energy efficiency, especially as energy costs continue to rise." That should keep companies' attention long enough for Vertal and his Green Grid peers to do some good.

Q&A With Larry Vertal

InformationWeek: How did you get interested in green computing?
Vertal: Initially, I was involved [as a consultant, later as a strategist] with AMD server chip marketing-the dual-core Opteron, the company's centerpiece of energy efficiency.
InformationWeek: Tell us more about your background.
Vertal: My background is broad and has been exploited in funny ways. Besides the scientific degrees [in bacteriology and chemistry], I've got a minor in philosophy-critical thinking has been huge in my business life. But I hate to admit what a nerd I am. I still read chemical journals every month.
InformationWeek: Where else have you worked?
Vertal: I've worked at large companies and startups. I like big ideas grounded in reality that have a positive influence in people's lives and have a real business substance.
InformationWeek: Any hobbies?
Vertal: I've got a long history in mountaineering. In my youth, I was involved in extreme altitude climbing. I still do mountain climbing, and water sailing.

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