People to Watch 2019

Jim Keller
Senior Vice President TSCG and General Manager SEG
Intel Corporation

Jim Keller is a senior vice president in the Technology, Systems Architecture and Client Group (TSCG) and general manager of the Silicon Engineering Group (SEG) at Intel Corporation. He is responsible for architecting the silicon engineering organization within TSCG using his impressive depth of experience and expertise.

Keller joined Intel from Tesla, where he most recently served as vice president of Autopilot and Low-Voltage Hardware. Prior to Tesla, he served as corporate vice president and chief cores architect at AMD, where he led the development of the Zen architecture. He also previously held the role of vice president of Engineering and chief architect at P.A. Semi, which was acquired by Apple Inc. in 2008. He led Apple’s custom low power, mobile chip efforts with the original A4 processor that powered the iPhone 4, as well as the subsequent A5 processor.

Overall, Keller has more than 20 years of experience in x86 and ARM-based microarchitecture design across a broad range of platforms, including PCs, servers, mobile devices, and cars.

Keller holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Pennsylvania State University.

HPCwire: Hi Jim, congrats on all of your success and recognition. As a lauded chip architect, you could work anywhere, why Intel?

Jim Keller: There are a couple reasons. The scale of the opportunity and the magnitude of the impact that Intel has in the world is really interesting — there’s a bunch of new innovation to do, and Intel can do it at a really interesting scale. We are facing a really big change in how people use computers, the types of computing, and what computing is doing to our world. It’s exciting to be a part of that journey. We are developing new technologies for a bunch of applications to meet these needs, and I like that kind of challenge.

Working at Intel is also a lot of fun. I have been very happy to meet so many people who care, are engaged, and want to do great stuff. I love being involved with people who care.

HPCwire: Is there a red thread that runs throughout your career? Your ethos to design?

Number one is I always work on interesting problems. Number two is I really get into the details of what I’m doing and what the results of my design – both good and bad – are. Details and problems are inspiring to me. You learn more from your mistakes than your successes.

HPCwire: Is Jim Keller concerned about Moore’s law?

Not even a little. Moore’s Law is not dead, and we will elaborate on our plan to continue it over time. My observation is that the end has always been near, but there has always been and always will be new things we can do to keep pushing that end out. The real challenge is, what happens as we continue to scale technology? What new architecture do we need and how do the problems change? That’s the interesting place.

HPCwire: Are the requirements of AI and HPC aligned or in contention when it comes to the future of silicon? How so?

They’re completely aligned and have more in common than you think – transistor density yields computational intensity. The evolutionary journey used to be called Bell’s Law. Every ten years there was a new kind of computer, and to an interesting extent, there were shrinks in performance enhancements for each new class of computer. The recent adventure is we have gone from scalar computing to vector to matrix to spatial. Each step has been a quantum leap in the use of transistors for increasingly complicated computational methods. As best as I can tell, more is better, and there will be additional new architectural adventures enabled by Moore’s Law.

HPCwire: Outside of the professional sphere, what can you tell us about yourself – personal life, family, background, hobbies, etc.? Is there anything about you your colleagues might be surprised to learn?

I’m a fairly energetic person. I have two children that constantly surprise and amaze me, and they both think I’m a goof, which is fine with me. I kitesurf, snowboard and run, and I’m also a pilot.

Lori Diachin
Talia Gershon
Gopal Hegde
Steve Oberlin
Jim Keller
Ken King
Gregory Kurtzer
Forrest Norrod
Thierry Pellegrino
Dell EMC
Michela Taufer
SC19 Chair
Steve Scott
Jack Wells



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