Intel Says Top Chip Designer Resigns for Personal Reasons

(Bloomberg) — Intel Corp. said top chip designer Jim Keller has resigned for personal reasons, dealing a blow to the world’s biggest semiconductor maker as it tries to reassert its industry leadership.

Keller’s resignation is effective immediately but he will act as a consultant for the company for six months, Intel said Thursday in a statement.

Keller was a senior vice president and general manager of silicon engineering. The former executive at Apple Inc., Tesla Inc. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. is credited with leading programs that have produced some of the most important components in the industry’s history.While Intel continues to report record sales, its rivals claim their products are now equal or better in performance and that Intel’s manufacturing delays make it more vulnerable to competition than it has been in years. At the same time, customers such as Inc. are increasingly designing their own processors.

“Keller’s departure is a big deal and suggests that whatever he was implementing at Intel was not working or the old Intel guard did not want to implement it,” Hans Mosesmann, an analyst at Rosenblatt Securities, wrote in a note to investors. “The net of this situation for us is that Intel’s processor and process node roadmaps are going to be more in flux or broken than even we had expected.”

Intel said its technology group, led by Murthy Renduchintala, the company’s chief engineering officer, promoted four engineers to more senior roles.

Keller was a senior executive at PA Semi, which was later acquired by Apple to boost its in-house component efforts. He designed some of Apple’s earliest in-house iPhone and iPad chips, which are the main custom components in its best-selling devices.

(Updates with analyst comment in fifth paragraph.)

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