Ian Interviews #7: Jim Keller, Silicon Wizard 🧙‍♂️

Was Jim Keller really ‘the father of Zen’? In this wide-reaching interview, Jim talks to Ian about his time at AMD, Intel, and others, along with a variety of management technique advice, how to approach design, the future of Moore’s Law, which instruction set matters (x86 vs Arm), but also the intersection between maturity and experience.

Written version of the interview is on AnandTech

Jim Keller is currently CTO of Tenstorrent, a 2016 AI startup that recently secured $200m of Series C funding to go build their 4th/5th generation processors. I recently interviewed CTO Jim and CEO Ljubisa about Tenstorrent as well as the relationship between the two, which comes back to their time at AMD together.

0:00 Interview Part 2
0:32 Q1: What Jim Did at AMD
5:16 Q2: Father of Zen?
7:16 Q3: Everything from AMD is out?
8:41 Q4: Zen 3 a rewrite?
9:52 Q5: Is Tenstorrent a Forever Home?
13:21 Q6: What Jim Did at Intel
15:57 Q7: Would Jim Go Back to Intel?
16:38 Q8: Has it ever got boring?
18:24 Q9: Do Engineers Need People Skills?
19:44 Q10: Arm vs x86 vs RISC-V Pt 1
23:42 Q11: The right compute point for AI
25:47 Q12: Adding Vectors to AI
26:48 Q13: Arm vs x86 vs RISC-V Pt 2
29:11 Q14: Too much bloat?
30:24 Q15: Would x86 ever die?
32:33 Q16: Abstraction Layers in Life
37:49 Q17: Is Jim Worried about Moore’s Law?
41:55 Q18: Beyond EUV Lithography
44:00 Q19: How to build a team
47:45 Q20: Teams and Company Culture
49:37 Q21: Recommendation for Early Career
50:22 Q22: Jim’s Mentors
54:37 Q23: Understanding People
56:05 Q24: Reading more than others
58:33 Q25: Passive Jim Keller bookclub
59:22 Q26: Making sure you absorb information
1:01:43 Q27: Managing time
1:03:44 Q28: Doing interviews, marketing, ‘talk’
1:06:12 Q29: Jim’s Superpower? Nature vs Nurture?
1:08:52 Q30: How To Mentor People
1:13:03 Q31: Proudest Moments
1:17:21 Q32: Silent Heroes and Self-Promotion
1:19:48 Q33: Intel vs AMD, Intel vs Apple
1:21:40 Q34: AI Enabling Chip Design
1:26:14 Q35: Proactive or Reactive Security
1:29:09 Q36: Ethics of Chips Built
1:31:27 Q37: Elon, Neuralink, Cryptocurrency
1:33:47 Q38: Going Beyond Silicon
1:37:00 Cat Tax

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Intel Core i7-11700K (8C/16T): https://geni.us/SreZM
Intel Core i5-11600K (6C/12T): https://geni.us/T4WG
Intel Core i5-11400F (6C/12T): https://geni.us/6UISblx

AMD Ryzen 9 5950X (16C/32T): https://geni.us/5950X
AMD Ryzen 9 5900X (12C/24T): https://geni.us/5900X
AMD Ryzen 7 5800X (8C/16T): https://geni.us/5800X
AMD Ryzen 5 5600X (6C/12T): https://geni.us/5600X

Intel Core i9-10900K (10C/20T): https://geni.us/Bench2020-10900k
Intel Core i7-10700K (8C/16T): https://geni.us/Bench2020-10700K

AMD Ryzen 9 3950X (16C/32T): https://geni.us/Bench2020-3950x
AMD Ryzen 7 3700X (8C/16T): https://geni.us/Bench2020-3700x
AMD Ryzen 5 3600 (6C/12T): https://geni.us/d08ThJ4

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