I always enjoy talking with Charlie. He is charismatic and entertaining. And he likely has the best job on the planet. He gets paid by AMD, but gets to spend his time working with the music and movie industry. I believe his official title is Director of Media and Entertainment, but I prefer to call him Vice President of Being Enthusiastic. It is rare that you meet someone with Charlie’s drive.

I was lucky enough to catch Charlie Boswell before he left Texas to head for the NAB show in Vegas.

Hi Charlie, it’s been about 6 months since we last talked, what have you been doing?

Well, it’s been pretty hectic. I have been working a lot with our clients. Particularly Dell and Guitar Center. It is our mission to make the experience superb for our customers,  and with our new Quad Core technology we really have something to offer the music world.

I recently read your treatise on ‘Global Nerding and the Autistic Planet’, and I came away with several different conclusions. Maybe you could help me out here, and tell me where I am right and wrong. Technology is running at the speed of light, but the price we are paying is in increased complexity of operation. Faster processors just lead to more difficult to use interfaces, exactly the scenario that a musician does not want.

You are absolutely correct. The only relevant computer that you should need to control is the one on top of your shoulders, that is the caus celeb! We need to bow down to the brain. AMD has always thought  of themselves as a platform, not just a chip producer.  Our recent entry into the graphics world does nothing but cement that idea. We are a platform!

The nerds seem to spend more time out-nerding each other than providing easy to use products.

You need to find a balance between the creative mind and the quantum mind. Our objective, well my personal objective, is to bring the computer closer to the human brain. Intuitive to use, easy to use. It doesn’t matter how complex it is behind the scenes, it just needs to be easy for the user. Much is made of global warming and the effect on the glaciers, but how about the melting mind?

The computer needs to become closer to our brain. And the new AMD is heading there, we can control our destiny.

 I found your analogy with autism very interesting, and one that I had not previously considered. The question is, are we becoming autistic as a result of technology, or is it our autistic nature that is creating the technology?

That is the snake swallowing its own tail! In 1947 William Shockley became famous as a co-creator of the  transistor. Shockley was autistic in nature, but still a genius. In the 1960’s autism was rated at 1 in several thousands, today it is 1 in 150! Today we have so many more autistic children. Maybe it was bad diagnosis, or maybe it is technology, but the numbers are rising. It could be genetics, who knows? The one thing that is for sure, is the stats. Some of it is genetically transmitted, but is it all?

I use the term ‘Mind Blindness’, some people might not recognize it. What I mean is an inability to see anywhere but a narrow angle, grab a straw, and look through it, you will see what I mean.

I noticed that you are involved with the Thoughtful House for Children organization. Putting 2 and 2 together and getting 7. Is there someone close to you that is autistic?

No, not at all. To give you a little background, my father was an engineer, and my mother played the piano. My first love was film making, and it was through that avenue that I met Dr Andrew Wakefield. We talked, and I felt there was something I could offer. When he asked me to help out, I could not say no.

You are headed to the NAB Show in Vegas, where can people find you?

I will be speaking at the Sony Creative Software booth on Monday evening, 6 pm, I think. I am going to be talking about music and movies. Particularly movies, with the quad core processor, we have so much to offer to the video world.

Changing subjects almost completely, you are a wheel within AMD, and very much the outreach to the music community, but you are also a musician. Have you been doing anything in the music world recently? Oh, and what instruments do you play?

Oh, I have been playing around town a bit. My real love is movie scores, and I am working on a couple right now. Dweezel Zappa, as in Frank Zappa’s son and a Ted Nugent movie to be exact. As to instruments, I like the guitar, but when it comes to composing, you just can not beat the ivories of the piano.

Charlie a quick trick question, lets say I want to set up a state of the art studio, should I go Intel?

Hmmm, NO! Take that route only if you want to spend more and get less. We at AMD are proud of our corporate culture, and we know what our products can do. I work in the ‘interface’, joining the raw power to the customer. Quad core gives us an advantage in the music and video business. It used to be that once the processor reached 100% busy you would see a drop off in quality of the signal. You will not find that happening with the quad core, it can handle the multiple channels of input and output.

It has been said in the press, and elsewhere, that more cores do not mean faster. Most applications ‘single thread’ so it is like having an 8 cylinder engine, and only using one.

Our approach at AMD is to get the best value we can out of the processor. When it comes to music and video we are ready for whatever you throw at the processor.

I really like Charlie Boswell, he is a man on a mission, and I like the mission! If you are headed to NAB, try and catch up with him.

Simon Barrett


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