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.

Comments closed
    • Ninjitsu
    • 2 years ago

    [quote<]Dr. Venkata "Murthy" Renduchintala[/quote<] Murthy is a part of his actual name (V.S.M. Renduchintala), why do you have it in quotes?

    • anubis44
    • 2 years ago

    I still remember people criticizing me for suggesting that Jim Keller was the Luke Skywalker of microprocessor design, and that AMD’s next CPU would be seriously competitve. I was told that Intel has ‘armies of engineers’ and that one man couldn’t possibly make a difference. Well, now we see how vulnerable Intel’s exhaust port really was…

      • chuckula
      • 2 years ago

      [quote<]Well, now we see how vulnerable Intel's exhaust port really was...[/quote<] First of all, blastdoor beat you to the Skywalker trope and did it halfway intelligently. Second of all, on a core-for-core basis how many head to head wins did 2018's RyZen+ score against the 2015 CPU architecture from Intel that you like to insult so much. You know, the CPU architecture that's so old that Jim Keller could literally copy features from it into RyZen. Because TR just did a review where RyZen really only wins when it has at least a +33% core advantage. We'll see how well it does when Intel's 2015 core design is put into a chip that has an equal number of cores to AMD's 2018 architecture.

        • K-L-Waster
        • 2 years ago

        To be fair, RyZen is competitive — it’s not beating Intel per core, but it’s at least in the game. Unlike, say, the FX series…

        F1 analogy: if Intel is Mercedes, AMD is now somewhere around Force India performance. Previously they were more like the junior support racers.

        …aaannnnd before the gang jumps on me, I’m talking per-core performance, not total package performance.

    • End User
    • 2 years ago

    Tesla’s Autopilot self-driving technology has faced unjustified scrutiny since the March death of a driver who was using the technology outside of its operating parameters while driving a Tesla Model X.

      • chuckula
      • 2 years ago

      No, it’s been facing completely justified scrutiny for far far longer than the latest automated-immolation.

      Considering it’s only an adaptive cruise control system that’s [url=https://www.teslarati.com/tesla-finishes-last-navigant-research-self-driving-tech/<]actually inferior to other commercial products on the market now*[/url<] while being horribly mislabeled as an "autopilot" the scrutiny is fine. * Even including Apple, so that's something for you to cheer about even though Apple was next-to-last.

        • End User
        • 2 years ago

        More scrutiny should have been directed towards the dope who was driving the X.

          • Redocbew
          • 2 years ago

          Isn’t the whole point of a self driving car to make being a dope irrelevant?

            • sreams
            • 2 years ago

            Enhanced Autopilot is not self-driving technology. From Tesla, that will be called “Full Self Driving” and is not yet released. The car actually warns the driver to pay attention, keep both hands on the wheel, and be ready to take over every single time EAP is engaged. The driver ignored the warnings. The fact that he never so much as touched the brake pedal makes it clear he wasn’t even looking in the direction the car was headed.

            No, EAP is not as far along as it should be… but this was absolutely the driver’s fault in this case.

            • Redocbew
            • 2 years ago

            Yes, I believe Autopilot is rated SAE level 2 meaning it’s intended only to supplement the driver.
            Perhaps then they shouldn’t be claiming their products have “full self-driving capability”. I’m not getting my pitchfork and soap box out here; as far as I can tell Tesla isn’t any “worse” than any other large corporation we hear about in the news, but putting all the blame on the dude who was driving for not paying attention seems like a disingenuous way to interpret the facts.

            • bhtooefr
            • 2 years ago

            To be fair, they’re not saying that they have SAE Level 5 capability now.

            They’re saying that the hardware on all cars built after October 2016 is enough to do it when the software’s ready, and they’re selling discounted licenses for that software (Full Self-Driving Capability) before it’s ready. (IIRC, they’ve also said that people with those licenses will get additional features above Enhanced Autopilot, but below Level 5 autonomy, as time goes on.)

            The problem is really that their current SAE Level 2 capability is good enough that it lulls drivers into complacency, and they don’t have good ways to detect a complacent driver. (There are ways that help – the eye tracking systems that some luxury cars have had for ~15 years for wakefulness detection are used by the comparable Cadillac Super Cruise system to detect a driver not paying attention, for example.)

            As far as the Autopilot name… I’m of two minds on it.

            On one hand, in airplanes, autopilot is a tool for maintaining course, but the pilot is ultimately responsible for the aircraft, just as with an SAE Level 2 system.

            On the other hand, in airplanes, a flight can be tracked by Air Traffic Control, and there’s vehicle-to-vehicle systems like TCAS that detect an imminent collision and automatically provide intervention directions to both pilots – there’s a lot more looking out for you in the sky, than on the roads with an SAE Level 2 system.

            (That said, as someone who generally believes in Tesla’s mission, and owns a few shares of TSLA, I really see Autopilot as a distraction from that mission, and would really rather Tesla didn’t. Envelope protections, like the automatic emergency braking in the standard safety features (and maybe even the addition of being able to automatically steer away from a collision), are what I’d rather see them focus on.)

        • blastdoor
        • 2 years ago

        I have to agree with Chuckula. Tesla’s autonomous vehicle efforts appear to be a complete disaster. They are so far behind now that I think they will have no choice but to partner with somebody else. Maybe the data they are collecting will have some value in a partnership, but a partnership is definitely something they will need. I suspect they’ll end up cutting a deal with Google.

          • sreams
          • 2 years ago

          Maybe so. But the fact that they are behind with the tech does not mean that the crash mentioned here was the fault of EAP. The system is very clear about what level of involvement it expects from the driver at this point. The driver willingly ignored his role.

    • Anonymous Coward
    • 2 years ago

    I guess he must go to whoever promises something interesting to do. I wonder what it takes to hold his attention these days. I doubt its money.

      • blastdoor
      • 2 years ago

      That sounds about right.

      I’m kind of jealous, but not in a malevolent way. How cool would it be to just move from super awesome interesting job to super awesome interesting job? It’s like he’s the James Bond of CPU design — he just goes from one amazing mission to another.

    • blastdoor
    • 2 years ago

    In other news, Luke Skywalker quits the rebellion to work for Darth Sidious. Said Skywalker, “I’m tired of working with a bunch of losers. I give these guys win after win, and they always figure out a way to end up bankrupt and running for their lives. F ’em.”

      • Klimax
      • 2 years ago

      By empire you mean Apple or Intel?

        • Saribro
        • 2 years ago

        Yes.

          • willmore
          • 2 years ago

          Vorlon, nice.

    • ronch
    • 2 years ago

    I wonder where some of the great (and not so great) AMD chip architects are now. Fred Weber (NexGen, K8), Vinod Dahm (original Pentium architect, IIRC also worked on K6/Nx686), Randy Allen (Barcelona), Dirk Meyer (DEC, K7) , Mike Butler (Bulldozer), Mike Johnson (K5), etc.

      • Topinio
      • 2 years ago

      Meyer went on to be CEO at AMD, where he shifted the company away from mobile/client and to server CPUs. He oversaw the development of Bulldozer, the sell-off of GloFo, and the court win over Intel (still not collected) IIRC. Then, for some reason, he was booted out.

        • ronch
        • 2 years ago

        Um, yeah, I was wondering where they are now. Dirk seems to have ended up at some sort of internet-related company after he was ousted. Maybe he’s still there. Too lazy to Google it.

        • Unknown-Error
        • 2 years ago

        I think it was Dirk Meyer who sold of “AMD/ATI Imageon” to Qualcomm for pittance which went on to become Adreno GPU in the Snapdragon SoCs. This was literally sacrilege. This completelty booted out AMD from a potentially vast stake in the hand-held GPU business. AMD to this day has no presence in the handheld device market. You can thank who ever decided to sell-off Imageon for that. Imagine an AMD that is licensing Imageon based Redeon GPU to SoC makers. Dirk Meyer was also the CEO during Bulldozer debacle.

      • ludi
      • 2 years ago

      Well, there is this whole “Google” thing 😉

      For example, it looks like Fred Weber is doing corporate gigs, he seems to be on the board of directors for pretty much everybody:

      [url<]https://www.hpcwire.com/off-the-wire/amd-semiconductor-pioneer-fred-weber-joins-tachyum-corporate-advisor/[/url<]

        • ronch
        • 2 years ago

        It’s noteworthy how AMD really makes people famous. Even years after leaving AMD people recognize those who were at Sunnyvale and did something big there. You don’t hear as much from other industry giants like Intel or Microsoft.

          • Redocbew
          • 2 years ago

          Yeah… who was that dude? I think they named a law after him. Something about transistors doubling?

          And there was also that dude at Microsoft who wrote a compiler for BASIC. For some reason people always talked about his hair.

          And then there’s Ballmer, but that’s famous maybe not in a good way.

            • ronch
            • 2 years ago

            I’m talking about engineers, not just board room top brass kind of executives. Somehow, working for AMD labels you an AMDer for life and wherever you end up your tenure at AMD will be mentioned.

            • Redocbew
            • 2 years ago

            According to you building a compiler doesn’t make Gates an engineer? It’s not what I do professionally, but I actually have some experience working with compilers, so I have some frame of reference when reading about Altair BASIC.

            It’s hard to say what his skill was years later when he ran the company, but back in the day he was a pretty good coder.

            • ronch
            • 2 years ago

            How many prominent engineers do you hear from from the likes of Google, Intel, Motorola, etc.? Not talking about founders like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs.

            • Redocbew
            • 2 years ago

            They all have good engineers who work for them. I know you’re just trying to put your favorite company in a good light here, but if there’s a point other than that I’m not sure what it is.

            For myself I’d rather be building stuff than talking to the press or doing product demos at some trade show. If I had chosen hardware you probably wouldn’t be hearing about me either.

            • srg86
            • 2 years ago

            Let me See, Bob Colwell (Intel, P6), Andy Glew (Intel, P6), Chuck Peddle (Motorola, MOS, 6502), Dave Cutler (Microsoft, Windows NT), Vinod K Dahm as the father of the Pentium before he went to NexGen/AMD.

            They are the ones I can think of off the top of my head. That’s not to lessen the contribution of the famous AMDers though.

          • Voldenuit
          • 2 years ago

          I, for one, would like to know where AMD Driver Guy lands.

            • Shobai
            • 2 years ago

            The common wisdom is that he’s still falling.

            • K-L-Waster
            • 2 years ago

            So you can avoid that company?

    • enixenigma
    • 2 years ago

    [quote<]Koduri head been the head of AMD's Radeon Technologies Group ...[/quote<] I'm assuming that first 'head' should be 'had'? EDIT: Unless this is meant to be some type of clever play on Intel's recent headhunting ways. Well played!

      • Usacomp2k3
      • 2 years ago

      or maybe a missing “had”. …head had been the head…

        • derFunkenstein
        • 2 years ago

        Koduri Head?

    • chuckula
    • 2 years ago

    As I noted [url=https://techreport.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=120894&view=unread#p1382009<]here,[/url<] Keller has been working on self-driving cars for about the last 3 years. So don't panic, he's probably still focused on that and we're safe.

      • Bumper
      • 2 years ago

      Safe from what?
      Would it be a bad thing if he developed desktop cpus at Intel? Care to elaborate?

        • chuckula
        • 2 years ago

        [quote<]Would it be a bad thing if he developed desktop cpus at Intel?[/quote<] Well... ask a rhetorical question.

          • Bumper
          • 2 years ago

          When I googled rhetorical question, the definition listed is:

          a question asked in order to create a dramatic effect or to make a point rather than to get an answer.

          So are you saying it would be awesome if he developed desktop cpus at Intel? If he doesnt we will be safe from experiencing one of the greatest chip architects of a generation making desktop cpus at one of the largest, most financed, talent rich institutions in the world?

        • Redocbew
        • 2 years ago

        Well, it is a Thursday and I’m sure at least a few people will view this as a terrible catastrophe. I suppose a “don’t panic” statement is in order.

          • JustAnEngineer
          • 2 years ago

          As long as you print it in large, friendly letters.
          [url<]http://www.clivebanks.co.uk/THHGTTG/THHGTTGradio1.htm[/url<] [quote="Douglas Adams"<] On this particular Thursday something was moving through the ionosphere miles above the surface of the planet, but few people on the surface of the planet were aware of it. [/quote<]

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