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Exclusive: Intel hires senior Qualcomm exec to boost mobile business

By Noel Randewich

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Chipmaker Intel Corp has hired Amir Faintuch, a senior executive at rival Qualcomm Inc , to step up efforts in mobile and Internet-connected gadgets.

Hiring a senior executive from a major competitor is rare for Intel, which is known in Silicon Valley for its insular culture, and it reflects the eagerness of the Santa Clara, California, chipmaker to improve its struggling mobile business.

Faintuch, who previously oversaw Qualcomm's networking and connectivity businesses as president of Qualcomm Atheros, is joining Intel as a senior vice president and co-general manager of the Platform Engineering Group, Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy said on Friday.

He will be among Intel's dozen or so most senior executives and will co-manage the Platform Engineering Group with Josh Walden, a manufacturing technology expert who previously led the group.

Mulloy told Reuters that in addition to strong network skills, Faintuch brings experience designing "system on chips," or SoCs, which combine features like modems, Wi-Fi and memory.

While Intel excels at developing processors for laptops and desktop computers, it has less experience designing SoCs, which are widely used in smartphones and tablets.

“We want to accelerate our success rate with SoCs and get the designs aligned and the roadmaps aligned to do that," Mulloy said. "We’ve made good progress but there’s more to be done. Amir has extensive management experience and a strong resume."

A Qualcomm spokesman had no comment beyond confirming Faintuch's departure.

Bringing in Faintuch, which was announced in an email to Intel employees on Friday, is the latest move by the company to accelerate progress in mobile gadgets, where it trails Qualcomm.

Since taking over in 2013, CEO Brian Krzanich has made a number of sweeping changes designed to counteract a slump in PC sales, including opening Intel's cutting-edge factories to other chipmakers willing to pay for access to them.

In May, Intel reached an agreement with Chinese SoC specialist Rockchip to make chips for inexpensive tablets running Google Inc's Android platform.

As Intel struggles with declining PC sales and slow progress in mobile, Qualcomm, whose smartphone chips lead the industry, has been viewed by many engineers in recent years as a potentially more attractive place to work.

In 2012, senior executive Anand Chandrasekher, a 25-year Intel veteran, jumped over to Qualcomm to become the San Diego company's chief marketing officer.

(Editing by Chris Reese and Matthew Lewis)

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