Intel chip chief abruptly quits as head of Apple’s Tesla chip

Today, Intel abruptly announced that Jim Keller, senior vice president of Silicon Engineering, had resigned for personal reasons, effective immediately. However, the chief designer of Intel’s chips will remain a corporate consultant for six months to assist in the transition.

Intel chip chief abruptly quits as head of Apple's Tesla chip

Keller has only been with Intel for two years. He joined Intel from Tesla in April 2018, where he previously served as vice president of Autopilot and low-voltage hardware. Keller has more than 20 years of experience in the x86 and ARM architecture chips, and has worked for AMD, Apple and other technology companies. Notably, Keller is a well-deserved star in Silicon Valley’s chip industry, leading Apple in the development of the A4 and A5 chips, the designer of AMD K8 and Zen chips, and the creator of Tesla’s self-driving chips.

Just yesterday, Intel unveiled a new hybrid processor, codenamed Lakerfiled, with Foveros 3D package technology and a hybrid CPU structure that includes a low-power Tremont core designed by Keller. For the past two years, Keller has also been the head of Intel’s 10nm process processor. Intel last year issued a 10nm Ice Lake chip for ultra-thin notebooks, which is expected to be released later this year.

In announcing Keller’s resignation, Intel also announced a series of internal staff promotions. Notably, Sundari Mitra, the former founder and CEO of NetSpeed, will head Intel’s newly created IP engineering division. In September 2018, Intel acquired NetSpeed, an integrated chip design company.

This is another core executive that Intel has lost in the past few months. Craig Barratt, head of Intel Interactive Group, announced his departure in May. Naveen Rao, a key figure in Intel’s artificial intelligence division, also left in March, when Intel planned to abandon Nervana Neural Network Processor (NNP) in favour of the $2bn acquisition of AI chip company Habana. In 2016, Intel paid $350 million for Nervana, the co-founder of Nervana.