Nehalem architecture designer returns to Intel to work on CPUs

Glenn Hinton is coming back from retirement to work on CPUs at Intel again. The recent appointment of Pat Gelsinger as new Intel CEO played a role in that decision, the processor designer says. Hinton previously spent 35 years at Intel.

Hinton will be working on high performance processors at Intel, he writes on LinkedIn. He cites that as the reason that he is coming back from retirement after three years. He also says that the appointment of Pat Gelsinger as Intel’s new CEO helped make that decision. Gelsinger himself has a technical background and was, among other things, the designer of Intel’s 80486 processor. The previous CEO of Intel had a financial background.

It is not yet known exactly what job description Hinton will receive at Intel. He has already been awarded the title of Intel Senior Fellow for his previous work. It is reserved for the processor manufacturer’s key technicians. Hinton was the lead architect of the Nehalem microarchitecture. This formed the basis of Intel’s first Core i5 and i7 processors, such as those of the Bloomfield and Lynnfield generations.

One of the first processors based on the Nehalem architecture was the popular Core i7 920, which came out in late 2008. The Nehalem architecture was later also used for Xeon server processors and laptop processors. Subsequent microarchitectures, such as Sandy Bridge, Haswell and Skylake, have largely been based on the Nehalem design.

Hinton worked at Intel from 1983 to 2017. He was one of three senior architects working on the P6 microarchitecture. Work on it started in 1990 and this architecture was used for the Intel Pentium Pro up to Pentium III. The processor designer was also in charge of designing the NetBurst architecture used for the Pentium 4 generation. That generation was not a success, so the Intel Core and Nehelam designs continued to build on the earlier architecture of the Pentium processors.

Midway through last year, Intel lost a key chip designer; Jim Keller then left due to “personal circumstances.” He had joined Intel in 2018. This year, Keller started as a technical chief at the start-up Tensorrent, which is working on new chips for AI. Keller’s credits include the microarchitectures for AMD’s first Athlon processors, Apple’s first proprietary socs and AMD’s Ryzen processors.

Slide from a presentation by Glenn Hinton on Nehalem architecture