Intel, without a permanent CEO at the helm for nearly seven months, is close to announcing a replacement, sources tell Computer Business Review. Is the chip maker set to announce the new hire shortly after its Q4 earnings?
With Brian Krzanich abruptly ousted as chief executive after the chipmaker learned he had a consensual relationship with an employee, the company has since last summer been led by interim CEO Bob Swan, the company’s CFO.
It reports Q4 earnings after US markets close on Thursday.
(Swan, announcing Q3 results, said he expects 2018 to be “the best year ever”. Wall Street expects Q4 revenue of $19.02 billion from Intel, according to 33 analysts polled by FactSet. That’s up from the $18.42 billion forecast at the beginning of the quarter. Q3 revenue was $19.2 billion. Net income was $6.4 billion.)
Intel: Undergoing a Strategic Shift
Along with the absence of a permanent CEO, Intel has faced range of headwinds, including delays in new manufacturing processes and growing data centre competition.
Supply issues with its 14nm chipsets have also been a concern, albeit one expected by analysts to ease in 2019, and the new CEO will take over a company that is aiming to execute on a fundamental shakeup of its innovation model, amid a rise in need for flexible hardware at the bottom of the stack that can underpin AI requirements.
(The company says its vision over the next five years is to deliver 10 petaflops of compute and 10 petabytes of data within 10 milliseconds to every person in the world.)
Six New Pillars
At an architecture day last month the company said its six areas of focus going forward would be advanced manufacturing processes and packaging; new architectures to speed-up specialised tasks like AI and graphics; super-fast memory; interconnects; embedded security features; and tools that make it easier to programme diverse computing engines across its CPUs, GPUs, FPGAs, etc.
Amid this shift to custom silicon and common software provision for developers to programme it, last year it released a toolkit called OpenVINO that can take a Dynamic Neural Network model from TensorFlow, Caffe, or MXNet to any Intel AI hardware platform in a few seconds, optimising the neural network model and converting it for use on any other AI hardware Intel platform, including FPGAs.
This week it also announced the open source release of Nauta, a platform for deep learning distributed across multiple servers using Kubernetes or Docker.
The company’s Chief Architect Raja Koduri said in a recent Q&A: “We see immense demand for computing architectures that evolve rapidly and scale exponentially. We have a bold engineering vision over the next five years to deliver 10 petaflops of compute and 10 petabytes of data within 10 milliseconds to every person in the world.”
New Intel CEO: Who’s in the Frame?
The company won’t be drawn on Krzanich’s replacement, but that hasn’t stopped plenty of speculation. Names linked with the role have included Sanjay Jha, a Qualcomm veteran who went on to head up Globalfoundries Inc, the world’s second-biggest maker of made-to-order chips before leaving last summer; Anand Chandrasekher, who led Qualcomm’s data centre efforts before leaving in May last year; former Intel CTO Pat Gelsinger, and Diane Bryant, who ran Intel’s profitable data center chip business, before leaving for Google (where she left after seven months as COO of Google Cloud).
Intel has hinted it will hire a “non-traditional” CEO.
It has only had six chief executives in 50 years.