There's some big CPU architecture news today. Two and a half years ago, AMD saw the departure of Jim Keller, one of the main architects of the Zen architecture. It was not very unusual as he has a history of jumping from one job to another, and he soon landed a position at Tesla to work on a self-driving car chip.
Now news is spreading that Jim Keller jumped ship to Intel. He will be replaced by Andrej Karpathy and Pete Bannon. Karpathy will head Tesla's Autopilot software program, while Bannon will be in charge of the hardware part.
“Prior to joining Tesla, Jim’s core passion was microprocessor engineering and he’s now joining a company where he’ll be able to once again focus on this exclusively,” Tesla said.
The interesting part is that Keller is joining Intel, where he will be reunited with Raja Koduri, who currently serves as Intel’s chief chip architect. PC Perspective speculates Raja is "getting the gang back together" to return Intel to its former glory. It's 2018 now and Intel is still shipping 14nm processors that are largely based on the 2015 Skylake architecture.
The lull in both manufacturing and architectural progress has enabled AMD to sneak up on Intel. A couple of years ago, it was hard to imagine the nearly bankrupt AMD could bring back the fight to Intel. But the latter stood still for too long, while AMD made huge leaps that returned its CPU business to competitiveness.
It seems that Raja is “getting the gang back together” to revamp the design culture at Intel to more adequately deal with threats to their CPU dominance across the board. They also are probably looking more closely at the ultra-mobile market that ARM has dominated for the past decade. Previous Atom designs have not come close to the efficiency needed to address those markets, but perhaps with a change of leadership and architects we can see Intel successfully address this very important area with high performance/high efficiency chips that we honestly expect them to be able to design.