What’s wrong with Intel: Former principal engineer unloads

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What’s wrong with Intel: Former principal engineer unloads

In a blunt video posted late Thursday evening, outspoken former Intel principal engineer Francois Pidnoel offered his advice on how to “fix” Intel CPUs, criticized current leadership for not being engineers, said AVX512 was a misadventure, and declared that it’s only luck AMD hasn’t grabbed more market share.

“First, Intel is really out of focus,” Piednoel said in the nearly hour-long video presentation. “The leaders of Intel today are not engineers, they are not people who understand what to design to the market.” 

Piednoel said Intel’s technical decisions have largely been “nonsense” since 2016. Incidentally, Piednoel left Intel in 2017 after serving as a principal engineer and performance architect for 20 years, working on CPUs from the Pentium III to the 6th-gen Core i7. The outspoken engineer often made technical presentations and demonstration pitches to the hardware press, passionately arguing why design decisions made by Intel were the right decisions.

Pienoel admitted his information on Intel is essentially “obsolete” and years out of date. That also lets him speak freely as nothing he spoke of was from information obtained under an NDA, he said. Instead, his analysis was mostly based on public information that’s been swirling around Intel.

The entire video is worth a watch for enthusiasts, but we’ve highlighted his most intriguing claims here.

intel ice lake u series Gordon Mah Ung / IDG

Jamming AVX512 functions into a laptop CPU like this 10th-gen Ice Lake CPU is a mistake, a former Intel engineer said.

AVX512 is a mistake

AVX512 is the basis of the DL Boost AI acceleration Intel uses in its Xeon server CPUs, and the technology has found its way into consumer chips such as the 10th-gen Ice Lake laptop CPU. Pidnoel flat-out dismissed including AVX512 in consumer chips as a mistake.

“You had Skylake and Skylake X for a reason,” Piednoel said. “AVX512 is designed for a race of throughput that is lost to the GPU already. There’s two ways to get throughput. One is to get the throughput is by having larger vectors to your core, and the other way is to have more cores.”

Piednoel, who once told me after Intel’s Pentium 4 misadventure that “we learned you can’t recompile the world,” seemed to imply the software game wasn’t winning Intel any battle this time either.

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