Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Jim Keller Resigns from Intel, Effective Immediately (anandtech.com)
417 points by virtualwhys 59 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 200 comments

What makes this more bizarre than Keller’s typical short stints at previous companies is that he has done a ton of media in the last year. He’s probably given more time to journalists/interviewers in 2020 than in the previous 3 decades of his career combined.

A Fortune piece from May of this year gave some insights into his plans (as well as provided a nice overview of his career) (https://fortune.com/longform/microchip-designer-jim-keller-i...).

> Keller won’t talk much about the massive chip redesign he’s overseeing—chip designers seldom do—and Intel’s new chip probably won’t be ready for another year or two. Still, both Intel and Keller have scattered some clues about how the chips might work. The new chips will cleanly separate major functions, to make it easier for the company to improve one section at a time—an approach that evokes the chiplet model Keller used at AMD. Keller also hints that Intel’s low-power Atom line of chips may figure more prominently in his future designs for PCs and servers.

It doesn’t sound like at press time he was planning to leave.

Keller also did a great interview on Lex Fridman’s podcast, which was released in February of this year (https://youtu.be/Nb2tebYAaOA).

Keller then did a presentation at the Matroid conference (held at the end of February) (https://youtu.be/8eT1jaHmlx8).

I hope he’s ok, since the Intel statement specifically mentioned “personal reasons”.

His personal reasons may well include that he "personally hates working at Intel"

Oh yeah. I have friends who work or have worked at Intel.

Management who runs this company are straight lunatics. The sheer amount of shelved projects, pointless reorgs, layoffs-for-show is staggering.

I do work in a corp, but thanks God our leadership is much more down-to-earth, even if I earn less money, I am able to retain relative sanity (due to my allergy to bullshit).

Could be that they brought him in for his expertise and then didn't let him use that expertise. Bad management has a way of doing that.

He was brought in not only for his expertise but in hopes that he could reform a sclerotic design process that's stuck in the 90s. AMD, Apple and Tesla (places Keller was before Intel) use a lot more design automation and thus are able to get more done/engineer. Intel has a patchwork of tools that are generally internally developed (and thus no one outside of Intel has expertise with those tools and expertise with those tools is not transferrable outside of Intel either) and different design groups have their preferred tools. From what I gather Keller was trying to bring in more industry EDA tools and standardize the design process between groups as well. From what I hear from people who were there he ran into all sorts of push back. So I gather he's decided to cut his losses and leave Intel to languish.

Being around big tech companies for years, for an explanation of what's going on it's easy to guess that maybe at Intel there is a status quo in practice solidly in charge that, in particular, believes that Moore's law is sick if not yet actually dead and, thus, wants to stretch out how much longer Intel can get good revenue with a sick or dead Moore's law.

Then for Keller and Intel, here is a possibility: Have the status quo at Intel bring in Keller and then ignore him so that (i) being at Intel he won't be doing things at a competitor that hurts Intel and its status quo, (ii) being ignored he won't be able to change the status quo at Intel, and (iii) being at Intel and ignored his career will stagnate so that in the future he will be no more threat to the Intel status quo.

That is, maybe the Intel status quo competes with people down the hall -- not the first case of that -- by ignoring them and for a chip architect competes with him by bringing him into Intel so that they can ignore him.

Broadly a new direction for him might be to quit being an employee, e.g., fighting the politics of the status quo, and start being an employer as a CEO of his own startup.

Quite broadly in the US, one of the keys to progress is to have lots of startups to get around whatever organizational dysfunction exists in older companies.

One of the reasons for this situation is the propensity of BoD members to be conservative, that is, risk adverse, to pay attention to the definite and well known bird in the hand, even if it is getting sick, and ignore the not well known and risky birds in the bush. In particular, such a BoD wants a CEO who just does a good job managing the existing business. Typically a BoD won't fire a CEO for failing to get new products into new markets but might fire a CEO who spends $100 million pursuing something new that fails. So, lots of CEOs just stay with the bird in the hand.

Indeed, suppressing upsets to the status quo was always a major purpose of corporate research labs like IBM Watson Labs, same Xerox, Bell, Kodak.

Corporate would spend any amount patenting things, but shelve every single thing. Innovation upsets the gravy train. So as long as you are on top of the market, change is inherently bad. Even a whole new, unrelated product line competes with existing products if a customer for both might be the same company.

A co-worker once sat listening to execs from EMC chatting about competitive threats: uniquely from other divisions of EMC. With 80% margins on existing product, nothing new looks attractive, nothing outside the company is competition, and it doesn't even matter what outsiders hear.

Such a company also benefits from buying up apparently competing companies and disbanding them or jacking up their prices to match. In the '80s, Mentor Graphics's business model depended on buying and shuttering Cadence-like companies. Cadence was the first one too big to do that to, and MG finally had to figure out another business when the gravy train dried up. They collected lots of rent until then, and the managers left flush and found other crooked opportunities.

It's easy to spot other companies in similar positions, past and present.

Yup, from my experience at one of the organizations you mentioned, I have to "agree with you more than you agree with yourself". Well put.

I find it interesting that (as of this point) comments that speculate on health are downvoted, but comments that speculate on his relationship with management are not...

People tend to empathise with that which is more relevant to their own lives; more people will have a bad relationship with management than bad health.

Spoken like a young person who will no doubt live forever. ;-)

Why not both? Bad management can lead to bad health. But I don't think it was only management - it was the rank and file that didn't want to change as well. Trying to fight an entrenched system could definitely lead to illness.

Why is that interesting? Seems like normal, on topic behavior.

He was brought in to try to modernize Intel's processor design process. To bring it into the 21st century. AMD and Apple (places where he'd been before) use a lot more design automation and thus are able to produce much more per engineer than Intel. Intel tends to throw more bodies at the problem which doesn't scale well. From what I've heard from people there he ran into too much institutional inertia and outright pushback. If Keller couldn't do it then Intel is just going to remain stuck.

Might be true, recently there have been highly boasted improvements in the RTL-to-GDSII pipeline, using AI, as one does. Both from Cadence and Synopsys.

Big company, but having worked at and for Intel I would not be surprised. I don’t have nice things to say about Intel.

Same here. It's a terrible place if you want to try to get things done. Meetings about meetings and nobody ever wants to make a decision.

When you have FU money and the expertise to be desired by anyone, doesn't seem like a bad reason.

> and the expertise to be desired by anyone

Seriously...Jim Keller doesn't apply to work places....places seek him out. The interview process is Jim interviewing the company, not the other way around.

There's something I can really respect about that, if that is the case. Imagine you hate working for your company, but you're still going out, giving positive interviews, and doing your job well.

I know a lot of folks (almost certainly myself included) who struggle to not make it obvious when they loathe coming to work in the morning.

One of my jobs, I was interviewing candidates on my last week. It was all fine, until the candidate asked "Why do you like to work on this team?" ... luckily we were at the end of time, so I could duck the question.

That's insane that they had you doing interviews when they knew you were leaving.

Smallish team, I was good at interviews, and not disgruntled, sort of made sense? We had a quick feedback loop, so we would make our decision day of or next day.

This candidate was great, and from what I heard, she got an offer from my team and another team at the same company, but chose the other one; I probably didn't sell the position well enough?

Anyway, not the most insane thing Yahoo was doing at the time, lol.

I got put on call during my last week once. My comment was “are you sure?”

> Keller also did a great interview on Lex Fridman’s podcast, which was released in February of this year (https://youtu.be/Nb2tebYAaOA).

This is great. I'm 12 minutes in and I'm getting the kicks from the way this guy describes concepts (that I already know, more or less) in a simple way.

The whole video is wonderful, really shows you how smart of a person Jim is, and as always Lex is a great interviewer.

Maybe the reason he was doing so much media was because he was encountering resistance to his ideas internally at Intel. Talking publicly about them and becoming the public face of Intel's CPU design program might have been his way to get more intellectual leverage. If it was, I guess it didn't work.

I can’t speak specifically to Intel, but at most large private companies when you’re an employee you give up the rights to talk to media/press about your work without employer approval.

For the Fortune and Lex Fridman interviews, Keller would likely have had to get Intel PR’s approval to participate. In Lex’s interview, you can see him wearing an Intel guest badge, so I assume the interview took place on-site.

Just listening to that Lex Fridman podcast. Keller is a very good explainer. However, I'm on the part where he says that you need to throw everything out every 5 years or so and rewrite and it makes me think that that would be an area where he would've gotten a lot of push-back at Intel.

I heard that he had a speech impediment before. Never felt that he did when I first saw him speaking on hot chips.

Hm, I remember a highly requested Joe Rogan guest talking about how he got over a speech impediment. Wonder whether there's a connection.

I've known quite a few friends and some family with speech impediments (maybe there's something in the water), but they all seem to do much better when they are in their wheel-house. I guess that public speaking on topics you are comfortable with could be quite positive. One of my family members was able to remove it entirely, he became a chef and was required to shout orders a lot.


That's the one.

Making my predictions for 2020, I thought that co-operation with fungal systems would slowly ramp up this year. Probably just that I'm looking for evidence I was right, but it's a fun connection to draw about someone who seems in some way at least adjacent to that scene.

Just wow, listening to the podcast interview is super interesting. The abstraction and knowledge on so many different levels and topics is thrilling.

Any other tips for interviews with similar architects?

There have been a couple others that come to mind.

With the CEO of Cerebras (a buzzy and well-funded chip startup) on the ARK Invest podcast: https://ark-invest.com/podcast/cerebras-wafer-scale-engine-a.... I will say that the interviewee here was a little bit more coy, and the podcast generally is geared more towards a business audience, though they have had very top tier technical talent on.

Also from ARK Invest was this discussion of the just launched Nvidia A100 GPUs: https://ark-invest.com/podcast/fyi-ep67-nvidia-gpu/.

From the Matroid conference, the chief architect at Groq (another buzzy chip startup): https://youtu.be/q-lBj49iF9w

How could one person be so important at CPU development?

We have no doubt he is one of the best player in the field from the history. But doesn't the huge project like CPU development require a lot of good workers rather than one genius?

There are so many engineering tradeoffs when developing a cutting edge chip. Picking the right ones is very hard; if you have a leader who staffs the project and sets the culture and decision making process in such a way that the right tradeoffs are consistently made, then that is golden.

He has a long track record of doing just that. It's not that he is the only guy on the team; it's that he has a knack for building teams that do this extremely well. And has done it at multiple companies with multiple architectures, with multiple design goals.

> But doesn't the huge project like CPU development require a lot of good workers rather than one genius?

It requires a lot of good workers and one genius.

Some people are just masters at seeing the big picture.

I wasn't under the impression that's why he was at Intel to begin with. I thought he was there in more of a leadership position to try and get the engineering team on more solid footing.

In that regard, it would make more sense that he left due to going against the current and finally throwing in the towel after finding more resistance to what he wanted to do?

Before Elon Musk, there were just as many brilliant engineers and researchers in the world, as they are now gathered in SpaceX. Still, SpaceX was possible because of his drive, vision and most importantly, taking the critical decisions.

So, that one person is important in the sense that he can get stuff done, set the vision, tone, drive, passion and inspiration.

SpaceX is possible because Elon was part of the PayPal Mafia. To start a company like SpaceX or Tesla, you must be fantastically wealthy -- at least billions in net worth. Elon is one of the only people who could've started SpaceX.

This is not to detract from the contributions that Elon has made, but to indicate that there are potential Elons all around you. How many engineers would've built something similar if they had resources? Consider that even John Carmack, despite millions in personal fortune, had to abort Armadillo Aerospace because it was too expensive. If he had a PayPal-size exit, we may've had a SpaceX many years earlier!

What you describe is more like Blue Origin, where Bezos can just comfortably pump in a billion each year to build up his rocket company.

Paypal sold for 1.5B [1], and Musk just got 165 million.

That's not a lot of money for building a space company, especially while buying into and growing Tesla at the same time.

Musk risked and almost lost everything, with both SpaceX and Tesla coming close to bankruptcy at the same time.

The SpaceX approach of ignoring conventions, building components in house on the cheap, plus Musks drive/vision and capability to attract young and motivated (relatively cheap) employees probably made the difference there. As well as ultimately attracting Nasa funding to develop a commercially viable rocket.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PayPal#History

After reading a biography on Musk I basically came to the conclusion that his life has been a series of 1 in 1000 bets that have paid off:

- Paypal

- Tesla

- SpaceX


Multiple times in the book it describes how he gambled it all on whatever project he was working on and it paid off for him. He is clearly brilliant and exceptional at hiring great people work for him. I think it's also important to realize that survivor bias is also at play here.

> I think it's also important to realize that survivor bias is also at play here.

Yup. The odds of winning three 1-in-1000 bets is 1:1e9, so we should expect to have a couple Elon Musks in the world out of dumb luck. =)

Assuming everyone took the bets

Elon was almost certainly not a billionaire when he founded SpaceX. His share of the PayPal sale was $165 million, of which he used $100 million to capitalize SpaceX. He may have had a bit more money in addition to the PayPal payout, but not another $835 million. Certainly not multiple billions.

Edit to add: Elon was first included on the Forbes list of billionaires in 2012, 10 years after he founded SpaceX. At that time Forbes estimated his net worth at $2 billion. In October 2011 they estimated his net worth at $680 million.

My key takeway on Elon Musk is how much he is willing to bet on something he believes in. Capitalizing SpaceX with $100M when he only had $165M is gutsy. Not saying $65M is chump change, but there is an opportunity cost to putting over half your net worth in one thing. Most people in that position diversify their investments across lots of things, or try to preserve more of it for the future, or are (probably irrational) afraid of losing it and put it aside in a foundation or something.

This is a really good point, and honestly pretty inspirational.

I think the key point is that he wasn't doing it just to make more money, but to do what he always wanted to do (make humanity an interplanetary species). Taking the time to break that huge goal down into steps that can be individually profitable (and thus fuel the next stage) and then executing on them so well is just... awesome.

Your comment inspired me to go hunting for the original SpaceX pitch deck (or similar initial documents). I found one but it's a lot more recent - anyone have a link to the first one?

It's the difference between just wanting to carefully make more money and wanting to do something important. Or to quote Walt Disney "We don't make movies to make money, we make money to make more movies."

I'm not necessarily disagreeing with your point, but having at least one successful exit + being willing to stake $100mil means that other investors are much more likely to sign on.

What you say, actually supports the original premise, that companies do depend on that one person who is the shining star.

There are hundred's of billionaires, wealthy from selling their companies. How many of them thought about building a company like SpaceX, literally putting their whole fortune on one thing, which at the time, had no clear chance of success.

There are many, not potential, but actual Elons out there. Only one has the right circumstances buoy him to the place where his visions come to fruition. And those circumstances include every factor in the spectrum, from personal traits, ideas, capabilities, etc to social, economic and cultural factors.

Almost all of technological change, one that spearheads mankind's next push into the great, is driven by people with will the size of mountains. It is their will that shakes the foundations, bull dozes the old, constructs the bigger, faster, higher new.

And Intel probably lost such a person.

This is true, but I fear that such people get idolized and the JB Straubel and Wozniaks of the world get sidelined.

> companies do depend on that one person who is the shining star.

> There are hundred's of billionaires

So why couldn't a non-brilliant billionaire team up with a brilliant non-billionaire to make cool shit happen? Or a capital-raising syndicate? Isn't that how capitalism is supposed to work?

That is what SoftBank's Vision Fund was trying to be.

Unfortunately it's the baby in 1 month with 9 mothers problem.

Just like SpaceX is killing it vs Blue Origin where one was on a relative shoe string and the other basically as much cash as it could reasonably spend, throwing money at a problem usually isn't the solution to the problem. Magic Leap also comes to mind in this category.

That too happens. But, when the money is from a third party, the risk apetite plummets, usually.

That's only true if the allocation decisions are being made by a third party like a VC because the third party usually has fiduciary duties (otherwise you have problems with conflicts of interest). But if the billionaire is investing his/her own money I see no reason their risk posture should be any different whether they're investing in their own venture or someone else's.


That is what the original commenter meant. If there are Elons out there with no money, they could band together to go to a VC, but then the risk taking process is skewed, because the brains and brawn are distributed.

>And Intel probably lost such a person.

Intel had such a person. Patrick Gelsinger, mentored by Andy Grove. But Intel's Broad ( Andy Bryant ) decided he was never going to be CEO and so ultimately left Intel. BK became CEO, and the rest is history.

I'm more inclined to think that the personality traits, drive, and fundamental intelligence that made it possible to get SpaceX and Tesla off the ground are connected to what led to him being in the Paypal Mafia in the first place. Those who have the spirit to bet it all on insane-looking risks and also choose the insane-looking risks to bet it all on that are highly likely to actually pay off are rare indeed.

Many of those who can only really do it once, and then retire with all of the money anyone could ever need to live a life of luxury until they die. Elon seems to prefer doing it over and over again without that much concern about his actual financial state.

Elon's PayPal wealth is not a rare occurrence. There are over 500 billionaires in just the US alone. His wealth was an essential ingredient for sure, but it must be obvious that it takes more than wealth to create a company like SpaceX.

500 billionaires in a country of 330 million people?

What do you think rare is, then?

I'd argue that wealth is step 1, but step 2 is a willingness to gamble that wealth, to lose it, and to hustle.

And of the billionaires I’ve met none would be willing to risk losing a comma no matter how big the potential payoff. In that respect Elon is definitely the 1% of the 1%.

Forbes (a website I despise) did a survey of people and how much they worried about money. As I recall even those with $3bn still worried about not having enough money. I'm not sure if that feeling is ingrained from evolving on the plains of Africa or if it's about losing status among your peers.

Wait, you've met multiple billionaires?

It helps when NASA is laying off everyone you need to hire, and they have no other choice of a place to work (unless they like blowing up poor kids in poor countries for Raytheon).

It should also be noted that he was not a founder at Tesla, even. He bought his way in.

>It helps when NASA is laying off everyone you need to hire, and they have no other choice of a place to work

Actually Musk has said in the past that they had a LOT of trouble hiring early on. They had goals of reusable rockets right around the start of the company, and most people in the industry didn't take them seriously.

Nobody wanted to work for the laughing stock of a company that dreamed of doing something that most thought was impossible (affordably reusing rocket stages).

People who pay astroturfers by the dozens might not be trustworthy sources of information.

He founded Tesla through force of will. They had a concept but no funding and no drivetrain. Elon got them funded and hooked them up with an engineer he had been funding to build a drivetrain. Their original roadster was going to cost $200,000+ just to build, Elon pushed them out of the way and saved the company.

He did not found Tesla.

If he hasn’t gotten involved, it would have failed. That’s indisputable. The common usage of founder nowadays doesn’t require someone was an employee on day 1, it means they were instrumental in its early days and Elon certainly was.

>There are over 500 billionaires in just the US alone. His wealth was an essential ingredient for sure, but it must be obvious that it takes more than wealth to create a company like SpaceX.

it's just that there are lots of low risks ways to make money with lots of capital than to risk wasting it on engineering or 'boundary-push' style business movements.

Big projects are cool, and great PR -- but safe trading and high interest accounts pay out more consistently, and often better.

It'd be nice to move the incentive over to value-building/engineering more than banking, though.

I wonder if maybe John Carmack would have had Elon levels of money if he hadn't sold his company to a corporation that probably employs contract lawyers that have Elon levels of money.

Seems hard to believe that Id wasn't worth a billion dollars. I wonder where the equity went, supposedly the other 3 founders got nothing when they left because that's the agreement they all made when they started it.

Elon is a chemist though, he might be more educated in area of rocket, understand the damn thing better than Cormack.

Yes CPU are designed by teams, but to effectively build a world class product you need a world class team and world class leadership. Keller has proven time and again he can lead world class teams effectively.

> But doesn't the huge project like CPU development require a lot of good workers rather than one genius?


Intel has over one hundred thousand employees.

AMD, which does not have fabs, has over ten thousand.

But only a tiny fraction of those work on CPU development, so it's not exactly a fair comparison. It's definitely not a numbers game.

However, Intel has (used to have ? I haven't followed recently but I'd be surprised it changed) two separate design teams, one in Oregon, the other in Haifa, working in a sort of "tick tock" way (each would work on one set of tick-tock when that was still a thing), so that, at least, was definitely an advantage in terms of numbers for them.

Whether those were efficient thanks to Intel's management/bureaucracy or, mattered at all since the 2015 process issues, however, is a a completely different story.

Imagine you have a pool of candidates. One has a proven track record. Five are equally good as him but lack the track record. Four are duds.

Lacking domain knowledge yourself you can't tell the good from the duds, so you go with the guy with the track record.

A lot of people seem to think the key is that he has particular CPU design genius, but from his interviews I wonder if in fact his genius is in managing people.

Perhaps people here have worked with him and could offer insight?

Why not both? There are a lot of very talented technical people in the STEM world, but how many of them are good managers?

And how many of them are willing to do management? I know a lot of sharp folks who walked away from Mgmt roles because of the BS and headaches.

Someone who is a technical visionary AND can lead teams is rare and powerful. I'm guessing Keller is at least competent at driving projects, on top of any technical skillsets he brings.

Yes, what I was implying is that some level of design genius is a given, but what may make him unique is that he also has management skill.

It's probably both. It's about being a great manager and making sure the team are aligned around the right technical concepts. A single wrong, major technological bet can doom the entire project.

It's not just the one person but also the process and tools used. Intel's CPU design process tends to be stuck further back in the past than AMD's or Apple's. Instead of taking advantage of design automation Intel tends to throw more bodies at the problem. That doesn't scale well. Keller was brought in because of what he did at AMD and Apple to streamline the process and use more design automation. But Intel tends to hire people right out of school and they tend to stay around for many years so they've never been exposed to how things are in other companies. I have a suspicion that Intel has most of their US CPU design activities in Oregon not just because it's a cheaper location than SV but also because it's a lot harder for employees to switch companies - they'd have to move to the Bay Area or Austin and that's a tough move for people who have lived in Oregon for many years.

So much of what governs the success of large engineering projects is the processes that govern decision making: from the actual design of the thing you're trying to build, to staffing and resource allocation, norms and processes that govern how work groups interact and collaborate, etc. Adjusting those is the most important lever someone like a VP has but it takes time. You can make changes quickly but things will tend to break and sometimes the thing that breaks is the leader pushing the change.

Just like a cathedral, there's an architect and then there's the implementers.

See recent discussion (with Intel's announcement): https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23493046

Intel seems to be going through some tough times and I wonder if this will have long-term effects in the tech industry. The x86 monopoly makes it difficult to find a viable alternatives quickly, and I think a massive shift to ARM will likely cause similar problems in the future.

How can we make software more interoperable with hardware? Is moving to open instruction sets like RISC-V advisable from an economic and innovation point of view?

Somehow I can't feel sorry for Intel, because they put themselves in that position - in fact - they even prepared the ground to be in that position, so wasn't just "luck", was a strategy.

Anti competitive practices that put AMD on a tight spot, that could have rolled over at any time.

Milking their comfortable position with high margin products, due to a choked out competitor and marketing deals.

They had it coming.

Well in one bright spot there are a lot more libraries and packages available or at least able to be compiled on arm64 or amd64 in the past year. Two is better than one.

> How can we make software more interoperable with hardware?

Install-time and run-time recompilation. Stop using binaries as the standard distribution mechanism for software; ship LLVM intermediate representation or something like that instead, and let every platform recompile to make full use of the hardware capabilities of that platform. (Pre-compiled binaries can be made available too, but as an optimization.)

Almost all OSs run on all major architectures. Almost all apps run on managed language VMs, or in the browser.

Some corporate environments are still captive to architecture, or there would not still be about 10,000 mainframes in use. X86 compatibility is transitioning to a similarly invisible need, obscured behind emulation and virtualization.

> Almost all apps run on managed language VMs, or in the browser.

I'm curious if there's actually data backing that up. From what I've seen, a whole lot of application development is still being done with C++.

It's not just about compatibility. It's about performance. Arm servers are seeing a similar problem trying to capture the x86 server market.

Totally random, but I would pay a lot of money to attend an "Intro to microprocessor design" class taught by this guy.

Is there a good book on modern microprocessor design? Specifically, something that assumes I know the basics of microprocessors but want to know the advanced details.

Hennessy and Patterson's Computer Architecture remains the bible.

Modern Processor Design: Fundamentals of Superscalar Processors by Shen & Lipasti

Computer System Design: System-on-Chip by Flynn & Luk

Want to tell us about a good book on the basics in the mean time?

How much money are we talking about? :)

Ten bucks

At his rate, that probably buys you a couple seconds of his time. If he can teach you his introduction within that, I think he should be charging more ;)

Buy H&P

Is that a book you are referring to?

Is it me or are the comments on the article super weird? I've never seen an AnandTech comment section like this one. What's going on, why this one?

You mean all the people talking about the Illuminati and calling him a pedophile? Looks like a completely normal comment section to me, nothing strange there.

But the comments on AnandTech are usually your run of the mill intel vs AMD (or any brand rivalry) flamewars... Not people accusing a dude that has no controversy around him of pedophilia or of being an illuminati while at the same time saying that he probably left because he was tired of Intel's "Israeli ownership"? And It's weird because it's not a one off comment it's multiple accusations against a... cpu designer?

He's famous now. Being a CPU designer won't protect you against the consequences of your name appearing in a newspaper.

That isn't quite our usual style of troll, and it seems to be coming mostly from a pair of brand-new accounts.

Mainstream news comments make me feel like we are on the precipice of the collapse of civilization.

I think the people making those comments are the same people you see out in the world who are visibly unstable. Disheveled, muttering to themselves angrily, cars plastered in political bumper stickers, getting into confrontations with service workers, etc.

In the world there is context. You're sitting in a cafe surrounded by 20 other average people getting on with their day, and there's some guy talking loudly to no in particular that Bill Gates is trying to steal our blood or whatever.

It's those people sitting on these comment sections all day. That's what I tell myself anyway, otherwise it's too disturbing to think about the other explanations.

I think there's something to this. The internet actually giving context to people who think Bill Gates is trying to steal our blood or whatever. They can find a little space on a forum, or a subreddit, or 4chan, or indeed newspaper comment sections and find other people who think the same way, and now they're all reinforcing each other.

And, letters to the newspaper have, for many years, been the province of grumpy retirees and people whose job literally involves writing letters to the editors (activist organizers, PR people, etc.). I'm always faintly bemused when I read the comments in the San Francisco Chronicle, which are near-universally from conservative cranks bemoaning how those big-spendin' liberals are ruinin' everythin' what with their welfare programs supportin' no-gooders and their public transit bringin' in crime why in my youth we had to walk up Telegraph Hill through the snow both ways comin' and goin' and we liked it. I'm pretty sure I could paste in a letter to the editor that appeared in the paper of my youth, the Tampa Tribune in the 1980s, with surprisingly little editing necessary.

The reinforcement is concerning. Well, I guess that's how we wind up at censorship and de-platforming issues.

Do you provide space in your cafe to accommodate all the neighborhood nutjobs to congregate, and they all start shouting in unison about gangstalking or Bill Gates stealing our blood. How far do you let them go? They rile themselves up and you get a guy barging into a pizza shop wielding an assault rifle to take down a non-existent pedophile ring.

There are social and geographic boundaries out in the world, so that doesn't happen naturally. But on the internet... sigh. It's a problem without an obvious solution.

I think one argument that can be made on the pro-deplatforming side is that it's necessary to protect the mentally ill and vulnerable. I've never seen anything like the Qanon phenomenon, and that's just the beginning. We're going to see Borg-scale folie a deux.

Wait'll you get a load of Twitter.

Were those comments wiped away? I cannot see any of them, also not in the dead section.

There are a few weird comments left, but I could swear a lot of them have been deleted since I made the first comment. It's much better now!

Honestly, we're bombarded with this type of behavior day in and day out. And it starts in the highest of places where one would expect more decorum. To a lot of people this behavior is contagious. It is much easier to be negative and to spew crap than to have an intellectual conversation.

Anandtech's review and article tends to be top notch if not the best in the industry. Its Comment section however, is just another comment section.

It’s called sliding, the idea is to fill a comments section up with crap and make it unusable. It’s a strategy employed by trolls, corporate reputation managers, political groups, and even apparently US government agencies.

This seems to be a challenging subject to search for.

Can you point to any sources to learn more about this phenomenon?

> Better late than never!

Same here, with the reply!

As it happens, I had that link saved before, but have not had a chance to really dig in to it.

But the high quality nature of its contents is immediately apparent, so it's near the top of that particular backlog.

Thanks for the reminder of its existence.

Wonder if it's got anything to do with Apple potentially announcing they're moving computers to their own ARM chips, Microsoft is probably doing the same, and Google and Amazon and other large players has already started creating their own CPUs too.. Wonder where this leaves Intel for the future?

I will speculate that he will join or do a startup. They money he left on the table at AMD was enormous - the equity went from 3$ to $50.

Sorry but that reeks of "Guy commenting on a discussion board oriented toward startup thinks someone will focus his career on startup, news at 11!".

There is no reason to think that, and everything in his career points to the opposite : him joining another Big Corp trying to make a top of the field chip

When I left my previous job I had to sign a 2-year agreement to not work for a competitor company.

How come he can leave AMD to work for INTEL and do exactly what he did in AMD i.e design a new cpu tech?

Isn’t that not-permitted in intellectual jobs?

You had to sign something as you were leaving? What if you just refused to sign it? What are they going to do? Fire you?

Edit: also, I have refused to sign non-competes in the past and still been hired. This is something you can negotiate at some companies.

> You had to sign something as you were leaving? What if you just refused to sign it? What are they going to do? Fire you?

Seriously. NEVER EVER sign anything on the way out of a job. Don't be a dick about it, but don't sign.

What if one is being laid off and the company offers them a severance package of X weeks pay for signing some papers?

X weeks for a 2 year non-compete? nah. Make it equal to the duration of the non-compete and then we might be talking.

I wonder if the 6 month "consulting agreement" is 6 months of non-compete. This statement from the article seems to hint that: "Jim will be serving at Intel for at least another six months it seems, in the role of a consultant, so it might be that long before he lands another spot in the industry."

Yes, it’s a common “gardening leave” strategy.

Assuming I'm not an expert in some incredibly narrow and lucrative field, if I were being laid off and they offered me fully compensated garden leave (with no offsets) in exchange for a two-year noncompete I'd accept that in a heartbeat and spend that time learning something new in a totally different industry. Thanks for the scholarship!

> What if one is being laid off and the company offers them a severance package of X weeks pay for signing some papers?

That's not crazy -- they're compensating you for the inconvenience.

Whether that's a good idea or not is a different story, and would depend on how easily you could get a job, what it would pay you if/when you got it, and how much/how long the compensation would be.

In the oil industry it's not uncommon to see 1- or 2-year non-competes... with 100% compensation for the same amount of time.

That's different.. it's unlikely that this offer would be made to you "on your way out the door".. and then you have time to review and see if the deal is worthwhile.

Sorry if I wasn't clear, I meant signing stuff during your exit interview, so on your last day and quite literally on your way out the door.

I had that happen to me once. But they said 'here's the paperwork, take it home and review it, have a lawyer look at, whatever you feel like; you have two weeks to decide'.

Any reasonable company would do it this way unless they are trying to screw you.

If they don’t give you time to review the terms and you later want to sue a court could find the agreement invalid. If they’re rushing you to sign the paperwork immediately that’s a red flag and you should definitely talk to a lawyer before you sign anything.

They can not give you a severance

Do they really hand out severance when you're voluntarily leaving? Typically that's for layoffs or "soft" firings.

For cases when you sign a noncompete when you leave, that's going to be in the case if a layoff or soft firing where they've got leverage over you. Otherwise fron what I've seen on NY where noncompete can be enforced, the noncompete is signed when you get the job. For the case where you're signing things when you leave though, that's when they've got a severance to hold over your head.

He left AMD for Tesla, then to Intel. My guess is he's a rockstar and he negotiated better non-compete terms.

> Isn’t that not-permitted in intellectual jobs?

Says who? Only the piece of paper you signed between you and your previous company and others who do the same. It's not even legal in most of the world for companies to ask that of an employee. It's a shame people like you have been brainwashed into thinking it's normal. It simply isn't and you should expect better of your employers.

Non-compete clauses are void in California.

At least here (Finland) that kind of agreements are only legal for board level positions and even then for half a year. Some conversations around the subject seems to indicate that might also be similar case in the other side of Atlantic

When you're Jim Keller you can probably negotiate away the non-compete

That would be illegal, or at least unenforceable in California.

Intel and AMD wouldn't exist if that were legal here anyway, both were founded by way of exodus from an eventual competitor. Intel in particular, its two founders were original members of the Traitorous Eight that left Shockley to found Fairchild Semi.

This will affect Intel share price -- Keller was behind the magic at any CPU company he worked for.

Things are looking very bad for Intel.

Their stock buybacks are keeping the share price afloat for now. Interested to see how long they'll keep that up.

Didn´t he leave AMD several months before Zen launched?

Yes, because his work on Zen was done.

It's easy to assume he also helped lay the foundation of Zen2 also; but he said in a recent interview that he prefers "full architecture refreshes" over incremental improvements.

Not always, if ever.

"Check our this great content before you leave" ... anyone else sick of websites stuffing an exit interstitial in your browser history, just in case you try and use the back button to leave?

Obnoxious for Anandtech to start doing this too. Is this a new technique? A company?

What do you mean? They have a Related Reading section. I searched "Check" on the page and nothing came.

When you visit the article posted, the site manages to insert another item in your browser history, at least on mobile.

When I attempted to leave the article with my browser's back button, instead of seeing HN, I saw the "Before you leave..." message on top of more article teasers.

I’m not experiencing that functionality on iOS.

Wild guess is he'll end up at Amazon if he went down the ARM route

Or back at Apple. Or overseeing TSMC’s strategical US expansion...

Apple’s announcing their desktop ARM strategy next week.

Given how many iOS and Mac devices (many Macs have an ARM processor for things like the touchbar) Apple ships, they’re already one of the larger custom high-end ARM licensees. It will be interesting to see how it goes for them.

And the silicon ronin is off again!

I always wondered about single individuals having an out-sized impact in tech. It is usually system/teams which make things happen. I am skeptical when one person is given most of the credit, and ignore all nameless minions who toil long hours to do the real work. Curious to hear others' perspectives on this.

I once interviewed with Jim Keller. He was incredibly down to earth and when I pointed out that I wouldn't have ever expected to get an interview with the guy who developed the Athlon 64, he laughed and said that it wasn't he who designed it---it was the huge team of engineers following his guidance. So I got the impression that Jim wasn't looking to take all the credit.

Actually in programming single individuals do make the greatest impact.

I'm good at what I do but my work would have far less impact unless it was done in collaboration with the few people in our org whose contributions are astoundingly good.

You need lots of peoples, sure. But, at the same time, the outocome of a project actually may depend on the knowhow, skill and diligence of an individual developer. Their output is prodigious, quality sky high, and in this manner they function not only as an individual contributor, but also in a way as a productivity multiplier for everyone they collaborate with, as the standard they set keeps everyone else also striving high.

You are correct, in a way - non-collaborating individual contributors are kind of waste and not needed in most cases. But collaborating individual contributors with high standards and high output? You really, really want to work with those.

In many complex domains like ML, I find most people don't contribute anything and actively make the problem worse. You often don't need the amount of people that large companies often hire, it's just empire building. Software engineers aren't replaceable cogs.

Standard Pareto 80/20 thing, disproportionate impact and all that.

I recall some statistic about how like 4% of fighter pilots accounted for ~40% of the confirmed kills.

What you are describing is not somehow unique to “tech.” It’s baked into literally every industry.

I’m hoping he joins Apple as an advisor on some really high end ARM chip for the Mac Pro or something like that

It's better if he goes to Nuvia if you want him to do that.

Not too sure that Gerard would want anything to do with Jim again. Or vice versa.

Why is that? Did I miss something?

Are they working with Apple? I thought Apple is suing them?

No. I was emphasising on the "high end ARM chip" part. Nuvia has plans to create the highest end ARM chips for data centers and such. Hopefully that trickles down to laptop size chips too one day. But "high end chips" and laptops don't go hand in hand anyway. The "regular ARM Chips" are already powerful enough to power laptop usage.

If that did happen it’d be the Nuvia ISA based on ARM no? So devices that used their chips would have their spin of the arm arch —- I read that every ARM chip is indeed an ARM chip but each vendor puts enough of their own spin on it that they are different enough — is that the case? If so, it’s unlikely that Apple will use something from them not built in house and custom to their needs imo

The ISA is defined by ARM, vendors can't directly change it. The actual properties of the chip is up to the vendor e.g. cores, caches, subsystems.

Never really used ARM to know whether such disparity exists. Maybe it's similar to that of AVX2 on Intel vs AMD - minor differences but generally things would work across SoCs just fine.

Apple isn't suing Nuvia. They're suing Gerard Williams III directly as an individual.

Or Apple could switch to AMD. Maybe both! :)

Moving to ARM is enough of a technical challenge, doubt they would want to divert even more resources to supporting AMD.

Yeah me too, it would be great to see AMD cpus instead of the Intel ones in the x86 offerings. In theory it shouldn't be a huge change. Moving to ARM is much more challenging but Apple has done such project before.

The article mentioned he joined as VP 2 years ago.

Did he still hold this same position at leave?

This is slightly off topic, but is anyone else noticing that when this page loads, your speakers begin to play background static? After multiple reloads, I _think_ it correlates with one of the ads loading.

I'm wondering (at the risk of being paranoid) why on earth an ad would have your laptop broadcast static.

I have no intention of loading the page, but I'm curious if it's actually trying to do ultrasonic communication, possibly with the devices in your house. Like an Amazon Echo, Google Home, or maybe even your phone. I've always wondered if ad companies would try to add tracking using ultrasonic communication because you would probably have a harder time figuring it out.

Granted it's rather far-fetched, but I thought that it could be a possibility.

Ad "framework" with audio, the poor underpaid soul who compose the final ad doesn't have the abilities, knowledge or care to disable that function when copy pasting from the previous ad he made.

At Intel it's a fab process company not a computer architecture company they had huge computer architect Layoffs a few years ago when the marketing army infested upper management it seems like the fab lazybots have canned Intel's last best hope...

That almost confirms for me that his “personal reasons” are working there is awful. I’ve worked for marketing led companies before and wouldn’t again. Yikes.

Resignations without a clear reason may indicate health problems. Probably cancer, at his age it is most common health issue. Best of luck to him.

So - Resigned for health reasons effective immediately, but then he's going to continue being a consultant for 6 months? Must be some fairly particular health reasons... I genuinely hope he's OK.

IMO, if it was health reasons and he still wanted to continue working for Intel, Jim would have simply arranged for some alternative working setup - more remote, email collab, different hours, a few weeks off, etc. None of these would typically provoke the need for an official resignation & press release.

"Health reasons" is probably one of the broadest categories of "leaving" reasons you can give, could be almost anything.

I myself is leaving the company I worked for a while now because of "health reasons". My coworkers and me are not getting along, so in order to save my personal sanity, I'm leaving. If the culture would be wrong at Intel for Keller, they could also publicly say for health reasons rather than blaming some specific reason and admitting the culture at Intel is bad.

Point is, could be anything really.


Also health reasons have the advantage that it is seen as somewhat rude to ask for details.

The other unspecific reason that is used similarly is "familiy issues"

While i can understand why someone would use this "excuse" i see it as a generally bad thing because it fosters that "health" and "familiy" issues are seen as excuses and not always taken seriously.

The fact that we are discussing that here kind of proofs this point.

There are two acceptable reasons that I’ve seen get little inspection:

“Family Reasons” And “Shorter commute” (to some other job)

The commute one I always thought was funny. It seemed to trigger universal empathy.

> Also health reasons have the advantage that it is a legal minefield to ask for details.

FTFY. 'Health reasons' are a subject that companies typically won't probe into because of existing legislation around Employers knowing employee's health information (And/or health discrimination lawsuit exposure).

'Family Issues' OTOH is something that's rude to ask about but far less likely to be problematic to actually go into. Also something that I probably -would- ask about in an interview because I'd like to know whether they could come up again.

Did they change the article or did neither of you read it? It says “personal reasons.”

The article must have changed. I'm 90% certain it said because of health reasons. You'll see other comments for the submission mentioning health as well.

It never said health, the comments are just supposition.

Where exactly is it mentioning this is due to health reasons? Both this article and the Intel press release only mention "personal reasons" so I'm not sure where all this is coming from.

Given Keller's position at Intel, such a reduced work setup could perhaps work for several weeks. But i doubt it would be sustainable for a longer time. This seems more of a sudden health drama, thus they decided he wouldn't be able to fill out his job and has to focus on his health for the coming months/years. As he is still available as (time- and responsibility-reduced) consultant, this seems like a rather unfortunate development for both sides. Wish him all the best!

There is zero mention of health outside of comment threads like this one. The article, and all others that I've seen, says personal reasons, which could be health or many other things.

Health is not mentioned, at all.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact