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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  • Truthy - Thursday, June 11, 2020 - link

    I'm going to guess that Jim just ran into to much institutional inertia at Intel and decided that he'd be wasting his time trying to turn the Intel super-tanker in the direction of more design automation. Intel is a very insular culture that doesn't take much to outsiders coming in and telling them what to do. Of course, they desperately need some input from outside to help them, but it's generally not appreciated. Reply
  • Deicidium369 - Thursday, June 11, 2020 - link

    Or he got accomplished what he wanted to and wanted to move on - as is his pattern Reply
  • 808Hilo - Thursday, June 11, 2020 - link

    AMD, Arm, Apple, Google, MS, Nvidia, Tesla all got their boards and chips generations ahead of Intel.
    Jim Keller arrived at Intel. Old chips, phantasy product pipeline, costly and very limited production, no shrink path. This means that the Intel herd is headless. Was headless for a long time. The herd built social constructs rather than chips corps and consumers want. If we treat corporations like individuals - then we analyze them a partially sentient beeings. Corporate psychiatry. In case of Intel this must follow with treatment. Jim Keller is not what Intel needs. Intel needs to clear the stable. Bring its moohing herd to the slaugtherhouse and grow a new herd. Then Jim Keller has a chance of reform. Because of this I moved our hardware procurement to AMD, Nvidia. Dr. Lisa Su and Jim Keller are exceptional, Elon Musk too. To me Intel is done. Its over. Expensive, greedy, slow innovations. No sell to me, no security - they moved hw design into the warzone Israel. Israel is running a Gulag. I want ethical sourced hardware. Intel cant.
    Reply
  • yeeeeman - Friday, June 12, 2020 - link

    Funny. Intel has a lot more talented engineers besides Jim. Intel did Sandy bridge without Jim. Intel did optane without Jim. Intel did a lot of innovation without Jim. They needed Jim now because they wanted the best product to come out after this long stagnation period. And it will come. Jim resigned for actual personal reasons, you can read about it in the press, about his family. You're just a conspiracy believer and should quit that. The fact that Intel core from 2015, that is Skylake, competes with Zen 2 parts which are much much newer talks clearly about who has the upper hand on innovation. Sure, Intel has been hand cuffed because of their fab issues, but when it comes to ip, I don't think they have a talent problem. Reply
  • yeeeeman - Friday, June 12, 2020 - link

    I agree that they have a management/culture problem and hopefully that will be fixed soon, cause otherwise is a pity for so many talented engineers. Reply
  • willis936 - Friday, June 12, 2020 - link

    Does anyone know of any company that had a culture problem that didn’t end in the dismemberment of the company? Reply
  • xype - Friday, June 12, 2020 - link

    Intel is publicly traded. Before they go down, you can bet your ass there will be a complete change of management, if need be. They're still doing quite well, though, so there's no real pressure. Reply
  • dromoxen - Sunday, June 14, 2020 - link

    Jim keller *is* the Ip-man Reply
  • joejohnson293 - Friday, June 19, 2020 - link

    Intel's fab has a big ongoing cultural problem and is an albatross around Intel's neck. Unfortunately current CTO inherited a trail of cronies in TMG (TD) management chain from the previous one who was unceremoniously "retired". Nothing much has changed in last 2 years for TMG. The list is long.. SVP heading overall PTD, yield VP, 10nm yield manager - who oddly has kept his job/promoted in spite of behavioral issues and consistently poor performance - all Rennsaeler grads btw (some kind of favoritism going on there as well) , litho manager calling shots in 10nm, process integration manager in charge of COAG,..... Reply
  • AshlayW - Friday, June 12, 2020 - link

    Let's not forget that Intel's budget is orders of magnitude higher than AMD's. Let's not forget that Skylake doesn't compete with Zen2, not even close, in metrics that matter such as performance per watt, or compute density (cores per socket) / MT performance and I/O (for servers).

    Your comment is spoken like a clueless gamer who thinks that a few extra % average FPS in a latency-sensitive workload on a dead-end architecture without chiplets and any future is the last word in microrprocessor technology. Let's also not forget the security vulnerabilities.

    AMD has innovated more in the processor industry between 2017 and today, than Intel has in the last decade. And you need to accept that.
    Reply

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