SAN JOSE, Calif. Intel Corp.'s reorg announced today shuffles a lot of deck chairs—some in surprising ways--but indicates no major new directions for the world's biggest chip company—at least not yet. Nevertheless, in a culture known for its reorgs, this was a big and complex one.
"There are pieces of that make a lot of sense to me, ones I find confusing and missing pieces that might be even more interesting," said Nathan Brookwood, principal of market watcher Insight64 (Saratoga, Calif.).
More than a half dozen executives shifted spots in a move Intel said was designed to let chief executive Paul Otellini "devote a higher quotient of his time to corporate strategy." What Otellini comes up with as new territory for the x86 giant to pursue remains the biggest missing piece of this reorg.
The move reduces the number of direct reports to Otellini. "Remember our chairman [Craig Barrett] retired this year, so Paul's portfolio increased, though he had been looking at doing this for awhile," said Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy.
Otellini recently finished a multi-year effort to pare Intel back in headcount and focus. Its charter now is to put the x86 everywhere from Atom-based handsets to Nehalem-based supercomputers and a diverse handful of x86 system-on-chips. If there is something beyond that, it's now Otellini's self-assigned job to go sniff it out.
To give himself more space for big-picture thinking, the CEO essentially put three execs in charge of all day-to-day operations.
No surprise that Sean Maloney is one of two execs managing the Intel Architecture Group under Otellini. The high octane Maloney has been seen as the next likely CEO since he was put in charge of Intel's sales and marketing group, the position that was Otellini's stepping stone.
Speaking of stepping stones, Otellini ran an Intel Architecture Group that included all the company's processor design teams years ago when he was being groomed by Craig Barrett for the CEO slot. Now Otellini is re-creating IAG, this time embracing all the company's products including the systems-level "platforms" he championed.
Pairing Maloney with Dadi Perlmutter to run the reformed IAG was a bigger leap for the former head of Intel's mobile group. But the move makes sense and helps solidify the rise of Intel's Israel design center which has been driving many of its processor advances in recent years.
Perlmutter has the technical chops missing in Maloney who, like Otellini, lacks any engineering background. The two co-managed the mobility group for a brief period around 2004.
Perlmutter is credited with driving Intel's focus to multicore architectures and away from ever faster data rates as the head of the Haifa group, home of Intel's successful Centrino and Core2 processors. He's also known for coming up with the tick-tock cadence of rolling out new processor architectures and new process nodes on alternating years, said analyst Brookwood.
Another Haifa veteran, Mooly Eden, rises with Perlmutter in the reorg to head a combined desktop and notebook products group. Given notebooks now represent the majority of PCs "that's the most obvious area where coalescing two groups make sense," Brookwood said.