Intel has lost a top executive within the chipmaker’s Network and Edge Group, a small business unit considered by chief executive Pat Gelsinger a “critical piece” of the company’s strategy.
Hong Hou departed his role this month as corporate vice president and chief operating officer of the Network and Edge Group, according to his LinkedIn profile.
On the social network, Hou said he started a new job as president of the semiconductor group at Brooks Automation, a Massachusetts-based provider of automation equipment for chip manufacturers.
Intel, Hou and Brooks Automation did not respond to requests for comment.
Hou’s departure was disclosed after Gelsinger announced internally on Februart 7 that Sachin Katti would take over as general manager of the Network and Edge Group.
Katti had been serving as the group’s interim leader for several months in the absence of its original leader, Nick McKeown, who was on medical leave since late last year.
McKeown returned to the Network and Edge Group last week with the new role of chief innovation officer.
While Hou’s departure was only revealed this week, employees had been aware of his plan to leave since at least late January, according to a source familiar with the discussions.
Hou joined Intel in 2018 as vice president and general manager of the silicon photonics division within what was known at the time as the Data Centre Group.
He then became general manager of the Connectivity Group within the Data Platforms Group, which was formed in 2019 through a restructuring of the Data Centre Group.
Hou’s final job change at Intel was in September 2022 when he became McKeown’s lieutenant as COO of the Network and Edge Group.
Abbreviated by Intel as NEX, the division was formed as part of a major restructuring orchestrated by Gelsinger in 2021 that brought together the Connectivity Group, the Network Platforms Group and the Internet of Things Group.
While NEX is one of Intel’s smaller business units, Gelsinger has considered it a “critical piece” of the company’s overall strategy, in part because of growth prospects with telecom firms and with datacentres looking at silicon photonics solutions and SmartNIC-like devices.
The business unit generated US$8.9 billion in revenue last year, which represented a 11 per cent increase and amounted to 14.1 per cent of the company’s total sales in 2022.
By contrast, Intel’s largest divisions, the Client Computing Group and Datacentre and AI Group, declined in revenues last year by 23 per cent to US$31.7 billion and 15 per cent to US$19.2 billion, respectively.
However, NEX has faced the cost pressures and lower demand felt by Intel’s PC and server business units.
In the fourth quarter of last year, the group’s revenue declined 1 per cent year-over-year while its operating income declined 84 per cent over the same period.
The decreased profitability was the result of Intel ramping up investments for its manufacturing process and product road maps.
NEX has also been subject to the multibillion-dollar cost-cutting campaign that started last northern hemisphere autumn.
In the most recent earnings call, Gelsinger said the company will end future investments on the Tofino network switch chip product line that originated from Intel’s 2019 acquisition of Barefoot Networks.