Intel promotes Raja Koduri after Arc GPU launch

Intel has promoted its top graphics executive, AMD veteran Raja Koduri, to the executive rank, signaling the chipmaker’s satisfaction so far with its fledgling – but strategically important – discrete GPU business.

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger promoted Koduri, head of Intel’s Accelerated Computing Systems and Graphics organization, to executive vice president from his previous title of senior vice president, the CEO told employees in an internal Tuesday memo that was seen by The Register.

In the memo, Gelsinger lauded Koduri, who was previously AMD’s chief GPU architect, for his “many contributions to Intel over the past four years.”

These contributions include leading the Accelerated Computing Systems and Graphics organization for the past several months after Gelsinger appointed Koduri to head the new group last summer, after successfully luring him away from AMD in 2017.

“It also underscores the criticality of the accelerated computing business for Intel – a key growth engine for our company,” Gelsinger wrote.

The promotion comes less than three weeks after Intel marked the launch of its Intel Arc discrete GPUs for laptops, the chipmaker’s biggest step yet in returning to the market and creating a new challenge for rivals Nvidia and AMD.

While we say “launch,” it’s important to note that laptops with Intel Arc GPUs haven’t been widely available yet. But rather than stating this in its official announcement, Intel instead revealed in a Twitter reply that availability began in South Korea and other regions will soon follow.

Regardless, Gelsinger seems happy so far about Intel Arc, which will expand to higher-end laptops as well as desktop PCs later this year.

“While this is the first step in a much longer journey, we’ve put the world on notice that there is a third high-performance GPU player in the game!” Gelsinger wrote.

This promotion stands in great contrast to when Gelsinger last summer fired Navin Shenoy, previously the company’s top data center executive, only a few months after the company launched its long-delayed 10nm Xeon Scalable processors that went under the code name Ice Lake.

Just the beginning

Intel Arc only marks the beginning for the chipmaker’s latest aspirations in graphics and accelerated computing, two areas in which Intel has struggled before, with canceled products like the Larrabee general-purpose GPU, the Xeon Phi accelerator chips, and the Nervana AI chips.

At the center of Intel’s new graphics efforts is the Xe architecture, which is currently used for Intel Arc GPUs and integrated CPU graphics but will also be used to power Ponte Vecchio, Intel’s upcoming high-performance GPU that will power what will become one of the world’s fastest supercomputers — if the big iron goes online as planned later this year.

“Under Raja’s leadership, we continue to execute on a multi-generation roadmap of Xe architecture, which is essential technology to deliver on our aspirations to power the infrastructure for Metaverse and Zetta-scale computing,” Gelsinger wrote.

If you’re curious about how much money Intel’s GPUs products are actually bringing in, we will get to find out next week. That’s when the company is expected to disclose revenue for the Accelerated Computing Systems and Graphics for the first time in its earnings results. Intel previously said it expects graphics revenue to exceed $1 billion this year and reach $10 billion by 2026 if all goes to plan.

Gelsinger said Koduri’s contributions go beyond the company’s GPU efforts and extend to broader architecture, software, memory and interconnect technology initiatives.

“Raja also drove several key changes in software, firmware and hardware development methodologies across Intel as we rebuilt our execution engine,” he wrote. ®

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