AMD’s Radeon RX Vega 64 and Radeon RX Vega 56 graphics cards have just launched, albeit in limited quantities, and AMD Radeon Technologies Group head honcho Raja Koduri has used this moment to announce a temporary leave of three months, leaving AMD CEO Lisa Su to run Radeon Technologies Group until December.

For AMD this is a major shake-up, leading to plenty of intense speculation as to why Koduri would choose a hectic moment such as Vega’s launch to go on a sabbatical. Since the news emerged, Koduri has published a statement and it seems as if the human cost of getting Radeon RX Vega out the door has taken its toll, leaving Koduri with the need to take time off for the next three months to spend with his family.

“At the beginning of the year I warned that Vega would be hard,” said Koduri in a statement. “At the time, some folks didn’t believe me. Now many of you understand what I said. Vega was indeed hard on many, and my sincere heartfelt thanks to all of you who endured the Vega journey with me. Vega was personally hard on me as well and I used up a lot of family credits during this journey. I have decided to take a time-off in Q4 to spend time with my family. I have been contemplating this for a while now and there was never a good time to do this. Lisa and I agreed that Q4 is better than 2018, before the next wave of product excitement. Lisa will be acting as the leader of RTG during by absence. My sincere thanks to Lisa and rest of AET for supporting me in this decision and agreeing to take on additional workload during my absence.”

While we obsess over core counts and architectures, I think it can be all too easy to forget the intensity and pressure that some of the forward facing members of tech companies, and indeed game companies, may be facing. I suspect Koduri has been putting in frankly insane hours in order to make sure AMD was ready to release Radeon RX Vega, and if this is a good time for him to recharge his batteries and get ready for the next wave of graphics cards, so be it.

While it can be easy to cast a negative gaze Vega’s way, it was understandable AMD chose to go the route it did, offering affordability over the raw performance we’ve seen from Nvidia’s highest-end graphics cards, such as the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti. The changes have led to six straight quarters of double-digit growth for AMD’s graphics card department, finally putting them back in competitive circumstances with Nvidia.

Attention is now inevitably going to turn to whatever AMD has in store next, including its lower-end Vega 11 GPU and the arrival next year of Vega 20, manufactured on the 7nm process. Due for launch at some point in second half of 2018, Vega 20 will move the Radeon Vega architecture to the new 7nm process with support for faster HBM2 memory and up to 32GB capacity.

So best wishes to Raja, and we can’t wait to see what he’s working on next!

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