David "Dadi" Perlmutter, executive vice president and general manager of Intel's Architecture Group, is leaving the company he joined nearly 34 years ago, Intel revealed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Wednesday.
Perlmutter was once tipped as a top candidate to take over as Intel's chief executive when former CEO Paul Otellini announced his retirement last November. That job wound up going to then-COO Brian Krzanich, as another top Intel executive, Renée James, took over Otellini's duties as president of the company.
Intel's Form 8-K filing with the SEC said Perlmutter was departing to "pursue other opportunities in his life and professional career." The well-liked Intel executive is set to end his career at the company on 20 February 2014, a date that will mark his 34th year in the employment of the world's largest PC and server chip maker.
Perlmutter joined Intel in 1980 after graduating with a BSc degree in electrical engineering from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel. Along with current president of Intel Israel Shmuel "Mooly" Eden, Perlmutter was part of a wave of Israeli engineers who moved up the corporate ladder at Intel in the 1980s and 90s, paving the way for many other non-Americans to join the American semiconductor giant and make their way into upper management.
With Krzanich's unanimous election to the CEO position, though, it could be said that a glass ceiling for non-Americans certainly appears to remain in place at Intel.
Before leading the Intel Architecture Group and the company's former Mobility Group, where he oversaw the development of the Atom product line, Perlmutter led the teams which designed the chips serving as the foundation for Intel's Pentium and Centrino microprocessor architectures, including the Pentium Pro, Pentium II, and original Centrino processors.
He is an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) fellow and was awarded a prize for innovation in industrial development in 1987 by Israeli president Chaim Herzog.
Perlmutter's departure from Intel may be one sign marking a new stage in Krzanich's leadership of the company. The former head of Intel manufacturing has stressed the company's need to move more quickly to meet trending businesses like mobile than it has in the past, while giving hints that the company may become more open to contracting out its traditionally tightly guarded manufacturing assets in a foundry capacity.
As Intel struggles with its ongoing transition from a PC-led market it was able to dominate in partnership with Microsoft, and as Krzanich contemplates new strategies to prosper, some industry watchers have speculated that the new CEO's plans for the company may be causing some friction with Intel's old guard.
It's not clear if such friction was the impetus for Perlmutter's departure, if being passed over for the top job was the issue, or if "Dadi" really just wants to try his hand at some other venture. Leadership changes often result in shakeups of this sort, which can play out abruptly or in a face-saving manner, as appears to be the case here. What we can say is that it certainly won't be a surprise if other long-standing Intel veterans jump ship in the coming months.