Top Intel Mobility Executive Chandrasekher Steps Down

Anand Chandrasekher, senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s Ultra Mobility Group (UMG), is leaving Intel "to pursue other interests," the company said Tuesday. Mike Bell and Dave Whalen, both vice presidents in the Intel Architecture Group, will co-manage UMG, Intel said.

A 24-year Intel veteran, Chandrasekher guided Intel through the development of its low-cost Atom microprocessors and Centrino mobile processors for Wi-Fi-enabled notebooks but has struggled to establish Intel as a top player in the tablet and smartphone markets.

Despite Intel’s commanding lead in the x86 CPU market, the world’s leading chipmaker has yet to market its Medfield smartphone chips, nor its Oak Trail tablet processors, both of which are due later this year, and meanwhile is falling further behind British chip design firm ARM in both segments. However, In an e-mail obtained by The Wall Street Journal on Monday Chandrasekher said he is leaving Intel to pursue other interests. ’I have done what I wanted at Intel and I felt it was time to explore other opportunities,’ he said.

Chandrasekher's departure takes place within the context of an increasingly heated battle with two rivals, ARM and Nvidia, who have allied to challenge Intel’s chip industry dominance with low-power mobile designs that they are currently developing for other markets including servers.

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Intel in February at Mobile World Congress 2011 in Barcelona began sampling its upcoming 32-nm Medfield smartphone processors, as part of an aggressive push led by Chandrasekher’s group into the mobile handheld device market.

’Intel is bringing the full weight of its resources, technology investment and the economics of Moore’s Law to drive down costs and power requirements for new markets, while delivering the leading-edge performance that the industry has come to expect from us,’ Chandrasekher said at the time.

Chandrasekher previously served as senior vice president and general manager of Intel's Sales and Marketing Group and, before that, as vice president and general manager of the Mobile Platforms Group. But it was Chandrasekher’s leadership of Intel’s Workstation Platfrom Group in the late 1990s that helped Intel grow its traditional desktop CPU business and attain its current 80.8 percent share in the microprocessor industry, according to research firm IDC.

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The announcement follows The Wall Street Journal's report on Monday that Intel pursued HP executive Tom Bradley to fulfill an unspecified executive role -- possibly to replace Chandrasekher. The report did say, however, that Bradley would have been in a position to succeed Intel CEO Paul Otellini, who is expected to retire in five years.

Furthermore, according to Reuters, Insight 64 analyst Nathan Brookwood said he once believed Chandrasekher was in line to succeed Otellini as CEO, and that the UMG’s lack of success may have prevented his eventual ascension to the top job. Brockwood reportedly said he expects Chandrasekher to emerge in a prominent role at another firm.

David Perlmutter, executive vice president and Intel architecture group general manager, thanked Chandrasekher for his contributions to the company and said Intel remains committed to the mobile processor business.

’We continue to make the investments needed to ensure that the best user experience on smartphones and handhelds runs on Intel architecture, and to ship a phone this year,’ Perlmutter said in a statement on Tuesday.