Intel appoints new data center chief as Diane Bryant takes leave

Long-time Intel executive Diane Bryant is taking a leave of absence for six to eight months, with Navin Shenoy taking over the head role of the company's Data Center Group.

Intel has shuffled its executive ranks again, announcing that long-time executive Diane Bryant is stepping down from her role as GM of the Data Center Group (DCG).

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said in an email to employees that Bryant would be stepping away for six to eight months to tend to a personal family matter.

Navin Shenoy, formerly GM of the Client Computing Group (CCG), will be heading up the DCG, which is Intel's second-largest business unit in terms of revenue behind the CCG.

In the latest quarter, the DCG reported revenue of about $4.2 billion, more than a quarter of Intel's total quarterly revenue and representing a 6 percent year-on-year increase.

"DCG is a central part of our transformation and corporate strategy to make Intel the driving force of the data revolution," CEO Brian Krzanich said in a statement.

Bryant was appointed leader of the DCG in 2012 after four years as Intel's CIO.

In the email, Krzanich credited Bryant for transforming DCG "from a server-centric group to a business that spans servers, network, and storage across all end-user segments, and with product lines and business models that extend beyond the traditional."

Intel is hoping DCG will become a bigger revenue driver than the CCG, which deals in PCs. The goal is to put more server chips and equipment in datacentres as computing moves into the cloud and as the Internet of Things market grows.

Shenoy will have one month to work with Bryant before she hands over leadership and begins her leave of absence.

Bryant will be given a new position upon return.

"Management changes can be distracting, but it is critical that we all give Navin, Diane, and the CCG leadership team our full support during this transition and focus on delivering leadership products and executing flawlessly," Krzanich wrote to employees.

Meanwhile, Doug Davis, the chip giant's SVP and GM of the Autonomous Driving Group, wrote an article saying the reason he decided to postpone his retirement from the company in which he spent more than 30 years is because of Intel's potential in the autonomous driving sector.

Davis believes Intel is not getting enough credit for its role in autonomous driving technology, saying that many autonomous vehicle carmakers are not talking about "who is powering the brains in their test cars lest they give away secrets".

In the article, Davis said that he firmly believes Intel is best equipped to address the data challenge associated with autonomous driving technology.

According to Intel, autonomous cars will generate about 4TB of data -- from cameras, LIDAR, RADAR, and other sensors -- every 90 minutes of operation.

To prepare for this, Davis said the company has set up the first of several planned datacentres dedicated to autonomous driving, which will be used for algorithm development and training, as well as understanding the infrastructure required for autonomous driving data movement and storage.

At an event in San Jose, California, Intel and BMW also unveiled the first of approximately 40 autonomous cars built on the 7 Series platform that it will be testing on the road.

The vehicles will include technologies such as cameras for road scanning from Israeli company Mobileye, which Intel acquired for $15.3 billion in March.

Under its partnership with Intel, BMW will be responsible for driving control and dynamics, component integration, and evaluation of functional safety including setting up a high-performance simulation engine.

All the cars are expected to be on the road by the end of the year.

Intel also unveiled on Wednesday its Advanced Vehicle Lab in Silicon Valley, which it said will explore artificial intelligence, connectivity, in-vehicle computing, sensing, and other technologies required to make fully autonomous vehicles a reality. It joins the company's other labs in Arizona, Oregon, and Germany.

Intel is among a growing cohort of tech companies looking to capitalise on autonomous driving technology, including Apple, Baidu, BlackBerry, Google, Lyft, Nvidia, and Uber.

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