Intel spins off FPGA biz with DC boss Sandra Rivera at the helm

x86 giant eyes outside cash injections, IPO for Programmable Systems Group within three years

Sandra Rivera is off as executive veep of Intel's Datacenter and AI group, and will instead be CEO of the x86 giant's now-soon-to-be-spun-off FPGA business.

On a call with investors late Tuesday, Intel boss Pat Gelsinger discussed the chipmaker's decision to hive off its Platform Solutions Group (PSG), arguing the move ought to provide the unit the autonomy it needs to compete more aggressively in the FPGA market.

"We haven't been managing it as well as we could have," Gelsinger said of PSG on the call. "We also see that we have the opportunity to execute more effectively in the lower margin, mid and low-end areas of the business."

We haven't been managing it as well as we could have

For those who don't recall, Intel bought its way into the FPGA market in 2015 with the $16.7 billion acquisition of Altera. Since then we've seen a flurry of FPGAs from Intel for a variety of applications, particularly as of late. So far this year, the Xeon processor goliath has rolled out 11 products, including an update to its Agilex programmable array portfolio that we took a look at last month.

And also for those who don't know, FPGAs – or Field Programmable Gate Arrays – are chips packed with circuitry that can be configured as needed to perform specific tasks at relatively high speed in hardware. You can program FPGAs to handle stuff like glue logic, peripheral control, data processing on the line, and many more things. They are quite useful in solving application-specific problems, especially when they ship with accelerators and CPU cores already on the die.

To lead the spin off, Intel tapped 23-year veteran Rivera as CEO of the operation, who most recently took over Intel's datacenter group as part of an executive shakeup following Gelsinger's return to the fab giant in 2021. Rivera is due to make the transition to the standalone PSG biz in January, and will continue to head up Intel's datacenter group until a replacement is found.

"I'm extremely excited by the opportunity to lead PSG, but also very proud of what the [datacenter group] team has accomplished together over the past two and a half years," she said on Tuesday's call.

While Intel is still working to fill out PSG's executive suite, Rivera will be joined by Shannon Poulin as chief operating officer. Poulin previously served as VP of PSG.

Looking ahead to 2024, Intel aims to bring in outside investors in preparation for an initial public offering within the next two to three years. But much like Softbank's Arm IPO last month, Intel says it'll retain a majority stake in PSG.

This isn't the first time that Intel has spun off a division as a standalone business. Earlier this year, Intel drove its Mobileye autonomous vehicle division — one of its fastest growing business units up to that point — to an initial public offering.

Intel also sold off sizable stakes in its IMS Nanofabrication subsidiary, which produces tools used in the production of advanced semiconductors, earlier this year to Bain Capital and later Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.

There's more analysis and commentary over here on The Next Platform.

Spinning off PSG may, most crucially, help the business combat Xilinx, which AMD acquired in a $49 billion deal that closed early last year.

Intel is due to report its Q3 financials on October 26. As we reported in July, the corp expects revenues to fall 13 percent year over year to between $12.9 and $13.9 billion during the past quarter. ®

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