Intel has just published a news release on its website stating that Jim Keller has resigned from the company, effective immediately, due to personal reasons.

Jim Keller was hired by Intel two years ago to the role as Senior Vice President of Intel’s Silicon Engineering Group, after a string of successes at Tesla, AMD, Apple, AMD (again), and PA Semiconductor. As far as we understand, Jim’s goal inside Intel was to streamline a lot of the product development process on the silicon side, as well as providing strategic platforms though which future products can be developed and optimized to market. We also believe that Jim Keller has had a hand in looking at Intel’s manufacturing processes, as well as a number of future products.

Intel’s press release today states that Jim Keller is leaving the position on June 11th due to personal reasons. However, he will remain with the company as a consultant for six months in order to assist with the transition.

As a result of Jim’s departure, Intel has realigned some of its working groups internally with a series of promotions.

  1. Sundari Mitra, the former CEO and founder of Net Speed, will lead a newly created IP Engineering Group.
  2. Gloria Leong will head the Xeon Performance Group
  3. Gene Scuteri will head the Xeon and Networking Engineering Group
  4. Uri Frank and Boyd Phelps will lead the Client Engineering Group
  5. Daaman Hejmadi will lead the Design Enablement Group
  6. Navid Shahriari will continue to lead the Manufacturing and Product Engineering Group

Jim Keller’s history in the industry has been well documented – his work has had a significant effect in a number of areas that have propelled the industry forward. This includes work on Apple’s A4 and A5 processors, AMD’s K8 and Zen high-level designs, as well as Tesla’s custom silicon for self driving, which Tesla’s own competitors have said put the company up to seven years ahead.

With our interview with Jim Keller, several weeks after taking the job at Intel, we learned that Keller went in to the company with a spanner. Keller has repeatedly said that he’s a fixer, more than a visionary, and Intel would allow him to effect change at a larger scale than he had ever done previously.

From our interview:

JK: I like the whole pipeline, like, I've been talking to people about how do our bring up labs and power performance characterization work, such as how does our SoC and integration and verification work? I like examining the whole stack. We're doing an evaluation on how long it takes to get a new design into emulation, what the quality metrics are, so yeah I'm all over the place.

We just had an AI summit where all the leaders for AI were there, we have quite a few projects going on there, I mean Intel's a major player in AI already, like virtually every software stack runs on Xeon and we have quite a few projects going on. There's the advanced development stuff, there's nuts and bolts execution, there's process and methodology bring up. Yeah I have a fairly broad experience in the computer business. I'm a ‘no stone unturned’ technical kind of person – when we were in Haifa and I was bugging an engineer about the cleanliness of the fixture where the surface mount packages plug into the test boards.

Jim’s history has shown that he likes to spend a few years at a company and move on to different sorts of challenges. His two year stint at Intel has been one of his shortest tenures, and even recently Fortune published a deep expose on Jim, stating that ‘Intel is betting its chips on microprocessor mastermind Jim Keller’. So the fact that he is leaving relatively early based on his previous roles is somewhat different.

Intel’s press release on the matter suggests that this has been known about for enough time to rearrange some of the working groups around to cover Jim’s role. Jim will be serving at Intel for at least another six months it seems, in the role of a consultant, so it might be that long before he lands another spot in the industry.

It should be noted that Jim Keller is still listed to give one of the keynote addresses at this year’s Hot Chips conference on behalf on Intel. We will update this story if that changes.

This news item was updated on 17th June with information regarding the new rearrangement. Points 2 and 4 were added, while (the new) 5 was adjusted.

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  • MikeMurphy - Thursday, June 11, 2020 - link

    Intel has massive problems at the moment having become complacent and uncompetitive after many years of milking a high profitable x86 market. It's mind-boggling to me that supposedly the most brilliant corporate minds let so many opportunities pass by over the last ten years. Reply
  • Hifihedgehog - Thursday, June 11, 2020 - link

    > It's mind-boggling to me that supposedly the most brilliant corporate minds let so many opportunities pass by over the last ten years.

    Greed is one heck of a powerful drug. It will can even blind the most brilliant Ivy League financial whizzes if they don’t constantly check themselves which history has proven time and again. I really think history is going to be repeated itself here again very soon and quite possibly not to Intel’s satisfaction.
  • drexnx - Thursday, June 11, 2020 - link

    disagree they got complacent or let things pass by - they were just beaten in each endeavor outside their core competency:
    2010-2013 - smartphone/tablet SOCs that went nowhere. Shame, because baytrail was a great chip, just got no wins beyond ones they bought.
    2013-2019 - cellular modems that put them in the predicament they've been in with shortages for the past 2 years (because they MUST fab apple modems before they can fab their own stuff. This was supposed to be overhead absorption and a way to keep their n-1 fabs near full utilization. Great idea, but 10nm's failure meant they were stuck with low margin parts and a contractual obligation on their top process)
    IoT - 2013-2017ish? - this was probably the most optimistic of their splashes out, how they thought they could make any kind of margin on commodity microcontrollers is beyond me. Maybe this was n---- fab utilization boosts? (I'm not sure how far back they keep fabs, if their 45 or 32nm stuff is even still running)
  • PandaBear - Wednesday, June 17, 2020 - link

    >disagree they got complacent or let things pass by - they were just beaten in each endeavor outside their core competency:

    They were ramming atom down everyone's throat and they lost. It is obvious they had that coming and it is their fault.

    They practically gave the modem away to Apple and they were still not that great (power, signal strength, stability, etc). They just didn't spend enough resources to catch up where Infineon throw in their towel on. They think as long as they have something and if they bundle it with x86 they can sell it.

    IoT? You got to be kidding me. Marvell, Qualcomm, and Broadcom would rule that long before Intel would. They actually spend time and resources to get things done while Intel spend its time trying to force an atom down any project. Yup, the same as smart phone and tablet. They don't want to go down the market of $5 SoC so they shove an atom down and charge people $20, or more if they want a celeron.
  • Deicidium369 - Thursday, June 11, 2020 - link

    Yeah "Lisa" Su let a huge opportunity pass her by by not being able to capitalize in a once every 12-15 year opportunity where Intel had issues. She is supposedly brilliant - terrible at contracts and capitalizing on a competitors failures... Reply
  • Avoton - Friday, June 12, 2020 - link

    Are... Are you high? Sue joined as CEO of AMD only in 2014, and if you're not aware of her brilliance, go google her. It's easy enough, even for a blind fanboy like you. Reply
  • Tams80 - Friday, June 12, 2020 - link

    She was the highest-paid CEO last year precisely because she has been doing an incredible job. And is relatively humble about it too. Oh, and people know her name, unlike whoever is running Intel. That says a lot.

    And new, innovative, better products can't just be turned out. They need years of development to come to fruitition. Su and AMD don't really have much control over when something will be ready.
  • PandaBear - Wednesday, June 17, 2020 - link

    You cannot just divest from your own fab overnight, Lisa did the unthinkable and turn the ship right. Both AMD's old fabs and AMD are now on the right track after the divorce, instead of following the "real men have fabs" policy from Jerry Sanders. Reply
  • londedoganet - Thursday, June 11, 2020 - link

    > Tesla, AMD, Apple, AMD (again), and PA Semiconductor

    This is not even in chronological order (though it is nearly, but not quite, reverse chronological order), so I don’t know why AMD merited two mentions.
  • Lord of the Bored - Thursday, June 11, 2020 - link

    Because the first time he did it, we got Sledgehammer, and the second time we got Zen. Reply

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