Intel announced today that famed chip architect and lead silicon engineer Jim Keller will leave the company, effective today, due to unspecified personal reasons. Intel's press release clarifies that Keller will stay on with the company as a consultant for a six month period to help with the transition to a new leadership team.
Keller is known as a leader of transformational efforts, and his depth of experience designing heterogeneous architectures played well to Intel's move towards multi-chip processor designs. In tandem with Raja Keller and Murthy Renduchintala, Keller was responsible for designing and aligning Intel's silicon portfolio under a new six pillar strategy that plays to the strengths of the company's IP.
Keller is known for relatively short stints at companies, typically leading turnaround efforts for roughly two years before moving on to other challenges. He served as Intel's senior vice president in the Technology, Systems Architecture and Client Group (TSCG) and general manager of the Silicon Engineering Group (SEG),
Given the long lead times in the chip design process and manufacturing, designs can take several years to come to market. That means that Keller's legacy will live on in a string of products that will mostly come to market long after his exit. For instance, his efforts on the Zen architecture didn't debut until he left the company.
Intel says that Keller will assist in a transition period over the next six months as it realigns its leadership under the following structure:
· Sundari Mitra, the former CEO and founder of NetSpeed Systems and the current leader of Intel’s Configurable Intellectual Property and Chassis Group, will lead a newly created IP Engineering Group focused on developing best-in-class IP.
· Gene Scuteri, an accomplished engineering leader in the semiconductor industry, will head the Xeon and Networking Engineering Group.
· Daaman Hejmadi will return to leading the Client Engineering Group focused on system-on-chip (SoC) execution and designing next-generation client, device and chipset products. Hejmadi has over two decades of experience leading teams delivering advanced SoCs both inside and outside of Intel.
· Navid Shahriari, an experienced Intel leader, will continue to lead the Manufacturing and Product Engineering Group, which is focused on delivering comprehensive pre-production test suites and component debug capabilities to enable high-quality, high-volume manufacturing.
Jim Keller's hire was considered by many to be a coup for Intel, given that he has a long track record of success, including at Tesla, where he served as the Vice President of Autopilot and Low Voltage Hardware. Keller helped architect AMD's Zen microarchitecture while he was the company's corporate vice president and chief cores architect. Keller is also famous for designing AMD's successful K7 (Athlon) and K8 architectures. AMD's canceled K12 uArch was another of Keller's more famous projects, and he has also worked for Apple and helped develop the A4 and A5 processors.