Outgoing Intel CEO Paul Otellini pretty much confirmed that Intel will be picking a successor for him from the existing crew.
That, of course, will increase the speculation who will be wearing the crown at the world's largest chip maker and dominant micro processor company as it navigates into territory where the company still has to establish itself in the smartphone and tablet market. Intel's board will have to make a choice between someone who primarily is an engineer or a business person. Otellini himself has a background in economics, and Intel's first business-focused CEO. As the company successfully restructured itself in 2006, his knowledge proved to be very beneficial to the company.
If Intel is picking an internal candidate, the most likely net CEO will come from a group of people that includes EVP and GM David Perlmutter, COO Brian Krzanich, former CIO Diane Bryant, EVP Renee James, and Arvind Sohani, president of Intel Capital. If Intel's choice is about business talent, then the company would have to resort to Sodhani or possible CFP Stacy Smith. However, given the challenges of Intel, the company would have to pick someone who can ignite the enthusiasm of its customer base and developers, which would have to be a technologist with deep knowledge and passion for processor designs.
The most likely candidates in this group would be David Perlmutter, Brian Krzanich, who is responsible for Intel's global manufacturing, as well as Diane Bryant, who now runs the company's Datacenter and Connected Systems Group, or Renee James, who is responsible for Intel's Software and Services Group. Perlmutter appears to be the obvious choice as he has led Intel's processor designs for almost a decade and he has the most credibility to explain Intel's products and technology direction, even if he is not someone who showcases his passion enthusiastically on a grand stage. Krzanich has not had the public exposure for the CEO position, James may be in the wrong place at this time, and the promotion to CEO could be too early for Bryant, even if she clearly is the one who can capture the attention of people.
And then there may be a dark horse in the running: I would not dismiss Justin Rattner's chances, if he wants this post. Rattner was appointed CTO in 2005 and has been with Intel since 1973. There are very few who have a similar vision of what drives Intel and what core technologies will change our computing experience over the next five to ten years. From this point of view, Perlmutter would be the business-technologist choice, and Rattner the enthusiast-technologist option.