Ex-Intel Exec Joins Rival Chipmaker with Data-Center Focus

Nearly three years after her surprise exit as Intel's president, Renee James is back in the chip industry with a heavily capitalized new company focused on cloud computing.

The business, Ampere Computing, makes chips for data centers based on technology from Intel rival ARM Holdings. Its headquarters is in Silicon Valley, just two miles from Intel's, but Ampere will have an office in downtown Portland, too, and outposts in Vietnam and India.

Ampere starts out with more than 300 employees, most of them hired last year when the Carlyle Group, the private equity firm where James has been working, acquired the computer chip division of MACOM Technology Solutions. Ampere has been operating in stealthy mode since then.

James, a University of Oregon graduate who spent 26 years at Intel, is the new company's chairwoman and chief executive and will split her time between the Bay Area and Portland, as she did while she worked at Intel. She has hired a number of her former colleagues to help run the business and lead its research.

Though James plays down potential competition with her longtime employer, she allows there will be areas of overlap and says her new company will bring a fresh take to the industry.

"There aren't that many people in the world who build high-performance microprocessors," said James, 53. "And I do think we need new views on what's next."

A protege of legendary Intel CEO Andy Grove, James was a finalist for the chipmaker's top job in 2013. Ultimately, Intel picked another insider, Brian Krzanich, and he made James his top lieutenant.

The partnership didn't last, though -- Krzanich has replaced many of the insiders in Intel's top executive ranks. When James left in 2015, she said she would seek a position as CEO elsewhere.

Many assumed she would take over an established company. In an...

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