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Intel Optane Leader Alper Ilkbahar To Depart

Dylan Martin

Executive Sandra Rivera said in a memo that Optane memory, which is based on the 3D XPoint technology Intel developed with Micron Technology, “has become a key differentiated product” in Intel’s portfolio under Alper Ilkbahar’s leadership. “Optane revenues have grown to $500M in fewer than 3 years,” she wrote.

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The leader of Intel’s Optane memory business, Alper Ilkbahar, is departing the company for personal reasons, according to a memo sent this week that was seen by CRN.

Ilkbahar’s last day will be Feb. 11, and taking his place as vice president and general manager of the Intel Optane Group will be David Tuhy, who previously led Optane and SSD software efforts at Intel, said top executive Sandra Rivera in a memo outlining changes in Intel’s Datacenter and AI Group.

[Related: Intel Taps Oracle Exec To Lead Cloud Group In Data Center Reorg]

“It is with mixed emotions that I share Alper Ilkbahar has decided to leave Intel for personal reasons,” wrote Rivera, who leads Intel’s Datacenter and AI Group. “Alper made many significant contributions to Intel since he joined in 1992 as a design engineer for Intel’s 486 processor and returned in 2016 to lead our Optane memory group.”

Rivera said Optane, which is based on the 3D XPoint technology Intel developed with Micron Technology, “has become a key differentiated product” in Intel’s portfolio under Ilkbahar’s leadership.

“Optane revenues have grown to $500M in fewer than 3 years,” Rivera said in the memo, which did not provide further clarity on the revenue figure. “Alper has been a role model for Intel values, a world-class professional, a mentor and friend,” she added.

In public disclosures, Intel has only provided pieces of financial information regarding the Optane business, which has made it difficult to understand the bigger picture.

As first reported by news outlet Blocks and Files, Intel disclosed in a recent public filing that the Optane business brought in $392 million in the fiscal year 2021. The same filing disclosed that the business recorded a $576 million operating loss in 2020.

Intel made the figures public because it moved the Optane business to the Data Center Group from the Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group, which was done as a result of Intel selling its NAND and SSD business to South Korean chipmaker SK Hynix.

While the 2021 operating income for the Optane business is not known, Intel disclosed in a previous public filing that Optane brought in $298 million in revenue for the first three quarters of 2020, Block and Files noted. But that is the extent to which Intel’s Optane financials have been disclosed.

Intel did not respond to a request to clarify the $500 million figure mentioned in the memo. The company previously declined to comment the executive moves outlined in the memo.

While Intel has sold its NAND and SSD business, the company has maintained its commitment to Optane, which the chipmaker uses to make persistent memory and storage products. Micron, on the other hand, has halted work on products using 3D XPoint technology.

At an Intel storage and memory event in December 2020, Intel executives said Optane was a “disruptive, once-in-a-decade invention” that requires a system-level approach to enable performance gains and other benefits for data-intensive workloads.

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