Intel looks to Revive itself by bringing back its Dignified Cavalry under incoming CEO

Pat Gelsinger, the new incoming CEO of Intel, had promised that he would bring back “key leaders” to help him stage a comeback for the company. One of those rejoining is veteran engineer Sunil Shenoy.

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The American chipmaker announced on Wednesday that Shenoy, a 33-year company veteran who left Intel in 2014, will serve as senior vice president (SVP) and general manager (GM) of Intel’s Design Engineering Group. His responsibilities will include “design, development, validation, and manufacturing of intellectual properties and system-on-chips for client and data center applications,” Intel said, according to CRN.

Intel veteran engineer Sunil Shenoy. Image: CRN

Shenoy, who was most recently an executive at SiFive, a fabless semiconductor company and commercial RISC-V processor IP provider, will start on Feb. 1 and report to current Intel CEO Bob Swan until Gelsinger takes over in mid-February.

He is joining the company shortly after another Intel veteran engineer, Glenn Hinton, announced he would be returning to the company to work on a “high-performance CPU project.” Hinton credited Gelsinger’s upcoming CEO role helped seal the deal.

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In a separate announcement on LinkedIn, Guido Appenzeller, former VMware executive, announced that he is joining Intel as Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of the company’s Data Platforms Group. Formed in 2019, the Data Platforms Group is a new division that was a part of a restructuring of Intel’s Data Center Group.

Appenzeller, who was also previously CEO and co-founder of Big Switch Networks, said he would report to Navin Shenoy, executive VP, and GM of the Data Platforms Group.

“In the end, my decision was based on the belief that the opportunities outweigh the challenges,” he said in a LinkedIn post. ”And judging by the recent move by Pat Gelsinger, I am not the only one with that view.”

In Intel’s earnings call last week, Gelsinger talked about how the people are excited about the roadmap of the company and referenced Hinton’s return claiming that Intel will lure back more former talent to work on products.

“You’ll be seeing we’re making adjustments in the leadership of our product development teams as well, where talent is going to come into the company,” he said. “They’re excited about the roadmap we’re on. You might have seen we just announced a new fellow coming back, one of my absolute favorites when I was here, Glenn Hinton coming back to the company, and you’ll be seeing other announcements of key leaders coming back in.”

Swan welcomed the “fresh perspective” Shenoy will bring to Intel.

“Sunil is a proven engineering leader who has deep experience in microprocessor and SoC design and R&D,” he said in a statement. “His experience inside and outside of Intel will enable him to combine the best of Intel culture with an entrepreneurial spirit and fresh perspective as we work to strengthen the company’s technical leadership team and to coach and develop a new generation of technical talent.”

What Pat Gelsinger Can Bring To Intel

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Intel’s incoming CEO, Pat Gelsinger. Image: Yahoo

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company’s deeply technical product portfolio is why many partners believe Gelsinger — who possesses an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, and master’s degree in electrical engineering and the American business exec also served as Intel’s first-ever CTO — is a great fit for the company’s next chapter.

Dominic Daninger, VP of engineering at Nor-Tech, a Burnsville, Minnesota-based partner of Intel in the high-performance computing space, believes Gelsinger’s return could help reverse a talent exodus that a hedge fund recently voiced concerns about.

“There must have been a lot of concern there about the previous leadership,” Daninger said. “And with Gelsinger coming back [that will likely build] a lot of confidence in some of the people that thought it might have been time to exit.”

According to Daninger, as Gelsinger’s team is rejoining the company with him, it likely means that people who have worked with Shenoy and Hinton or worked for them could soon follow.

“Oftentimes these folks, they have a team that they work with,” he said. “It‘s kind of like a stool without legs. If you have the stool, but you’re missing a leg or two, it can’t be as effective. So a lot of times, you’ll see some people that you probably won’t read about, but they’ll follow back.”

Wallace Santos, CEO of Maingear, a Kenilworth, New Jersey-based PC system builder for the enthusiast market, made a valid point by looking at Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang and AMD CEO Lisa Su and how their technical backgrounds have impacted their respective companies’ product strategies and long-term plans.

“I think that’s where Pat’s going to shine,” he said. “I think he’s going to look at the architectural lineup and say, ‘Here’s where we can make adjustments. Here’s what we can do to keep the future bright.’”

With reports coming in of Intel already reaching an agreement for outsourcing more chip production to external foundries, Santos said the technical background that Gelsinger possesses could see him be more willing to sacrifice short-term profitability to make a decision on manufacturing that would benefit the company’s products in the long term. 

“Putting all the pride aside and being able to recognize where you stand and say, ‘hey, you know what, this makes more sense architecturally for the firm in the in the long term,’ only an engineer can make those moves,” Santos said. “Because if you talk to a person that doesn’t understand that and they make a decision based on financials alone, they’re probably going to make their own decisions.”

Copeland, of Velocity Micro, said Gelsinger may need to make even more difficult decisions and consider scrapping existing product plans in order to become more competitive against AMD, which recently claimed that it has surpassed Intel in the key metric of single-threaded performance for CPUs.

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