Intel AI GM Naveen Rao Leaves After Habana Chosen Over Nervana

Source: Artificial Intelligence on Medium

Naveen G. Rao, corporate vice president and general manager of the Artificial Intelligence Platforms Group at Intel, is stepping down. His announcement follows the company’s high-profile decision earlier this month to drop neural network processors from Nervana, the AI software company Rao co-founded and Intel acquired in 2016; and shift focus to Habana, the Israel-based startup Intel acquired last December.

Rao made the announcement Wednesday afternoon on Twitter: “It has been a remarkable experience building a new brand within Intel and sharpening the focus around #ai at the company! I wish all of my colleagues well as the field of AI matures. Never stop innovating!”

Intel has confirmed to CRN that Rao is leaving the company and his last day is March 10.

When asked about his next move on Twitter, Rao said he’d first take some time off with family.

Trained as both a computer architect and neuroscientist, Rao joined Intel in 2016 with Intel’s acquisition of Nervana Systems, the deep learning processor company he co-founded in 2014. Prior to founding Nervana, Rao was a neuromorphic machines researcher at Qualcomm, where he focused on neural computation and learning in artificial systems.

Intel is buying big in the AI chip market. According to Axios, the chip giant paid close to US$2 billion to acquire AI processor startup Habana Labs. With Nervana out of the picture, Intel will focus exclusively on the Habana product line of processors. Intel says it will continue supporting current Spring Hill chips running Nervana technology, but is cancelling development of the Spring Crest follow-up.

“Habana product line offers the strong, strategic advantage of a unified, highly-programmable architecture for both inference and training,” said Intel in a statement released earlier this year.

Intel AI Vice President Gadi Singer, who previously led Intel AI’s Inference Products Group under Rao, has taken over Rao’s position, an Intel spokesperson told CRN.