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Hector Ruiz

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Biography

Hector Ruiz is the former chief executive officer of Advanced Micro Devices.

Ruiz was born in the small Mexican coal-mining town of Piedras Negras on December 25, 1945, to a middle-class family. He lived in Mexico until 1964 but went to an American high school between 1962 and 1964 in Eagle Pass, Texas, which was directly across the Rio Grande River. He enrolled at the University of Texas to study mechanics with the hope of joining the automobile industry. In college, his advisors convinced him to pursue a research degree, and he earned a Ph.D in electrical engineering at Rice University in 1973.

Although he graduated into a difficult market, a professor guided him to a job with a fellow Rice alumnus at Texas Instruments. He worked at Texas Instruments for six years and at Motorola for twenty-two years, rising to the presidency of the company’s semiconductor division.

He was then recruited by Jerry Saunders, founder of computer chip maker American Micro Devices (AMD), to help revive his company’s fortunes. Beginning as president and chief operating officer, Ruiz became chief executive officer of AMD in 2002. In his six-year tenure, Ruiz battled with market-leader Intel to widen AMD’s share of the processor business. He developed an advanced line of Opteron chips that had performance advantages over Intel’s Pentium processors and were installed in Dell and Hewlett-Packard products. He also filed an anti-trust action against Intel, claiming that the company engaged in unfair trade practices. AMD’s stock nearly tripled under Ruiz’s watch, but the gains were short-lived, and the company had lost most of its new market share and stock value by the time of Ruiz’s exit.

After being ousted by AMD’s board of directors in 2008, Ruiz became chairman of Globalfoundries, Inc., a chipmaker financed by the government of Abu Dhabi. He resigned from this new venture in November 2009 and has since organized a consulting company. He continues to advocate for immigration reform, supporting a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Further Reading

Hector Ruiz (with John Markoff), "The Carrot of Education," NY Times, August 31, 2003.

John Markoff and Laurie J. Flynn, "Another Loss at A.M.D. Leads to Chief’s Ouster," NY Times, July 18, 2008.

Ian King, "AMD Former CEO Hector Ruiz Starts Company, Touts Deal Experience," Bloomberg Business News, June 28, 2011.