Former Apple and AMD chip architect Jim Keller joins Intel


Jim Keller has worked for some of the biggest heavyweights in the silicon industry, including DEC, AMD, Broadcom, and Apple. The lead designer of AMD's K8 microarchitecture is now a senior VP at Intel after spending two years working on Autopilot and low-voltage hardware at Tesla. Intel's announcement says Keller will lead the company's silicon engineering efforts, which include SoC design and integration.

Keller rose to industry fame for his work on DEC's Alpha 21164 and 21264 processors. He moved on to AMD in 1998, where he assisted in the design of the K7 architecture used in the company's first Athlon processors. He spearheaded the company's K8 follow-up, which introduced the x86-64 instruction set architecture. He left AMD to work for SiByte, which was later acquired by Broadcom. From there he went on to PA Semi, a low-power processor specialist outfit that was later purchased by Apple. Keller worked on Apple's A4 and A5 SoCs while with the company. He returned to AMD in 2012 to work on the company's Zen architecture before leaving for Tesla in early 2016.

Keller's replacement at Tesla is another former PA Semi and Apple employee, Pete Bannon. Tesla's Autopilot self-driving technology has faced increased scrutiny since the March death of a driver using the technology in a Tesla Model X SUV. 

Intel's announcement of the hiring of Keller also includes a mention of a new title for Dr. Venkata "Murthy" Renduchintala. Renduchintala is now the company's Chief Engineering Officer and group president of the Technology, Systems Architecture & Client Group. Intel brought Renduchintala in from Qualcomm in 2015. The promotion suggests there are no hard feelings over a leaked 2016 memo where Renduchintala was critical of Intel's management and corporate focus.

Intel hired former AMD employee Raja Koduri last year to head its then-new Core and Visual Computing Group. Koduri had been the head of AMD's Radeon Technologies Group until his resignation one day before the announcement of his hiring at Intel. With Keller's hire, two former high-profile AMD architects are now in leadership roles for the blue team. We'll be keenly watching to see what fruits their labors produce.

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