Intel refused to let Mr. Swan and Mr. Gelsinger present for interviews.
Many of the departures of Intel’s key leadership in recent years have occurred under Brian Krzanich, the chief executive officer, who was fired from his job in 2018 following a consensus with his subordinates. But last year, Intel suffered a shock when Jim Keller, a prominent engineer helping overhaul development processes, left the company.
Venkata Renduchintala, the former chief of Qualcomm, who tried to help Intel troubleshoot manufacturing problems, also left in 2020 after Intel revealed that its next production process would be delayed.
Mr. Swan, 60, is said to have helped defuse internal controversy at the company and led changes to bring Intel into other markets, such as equipment for mobile base stations. He also ditched the ailing business, sold one wireless chip design division to Apple, and another that made various types of memory chips for SK Hynix.
But analysts say he lacks the foundation to make difficult technical decisions.
“The chip problems take years to solve and although Swan has achieved a lot of work, it’s not enough,” said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. He added that he expected Mr. Gelsinger to “focus on the company’s technical culture.”
Mr. Gelsinger faces tough problems. One is how to deal with Intel’s manufacturing problems. Aside from technical improvements, Mr. Swan signaled that Intel could take a radical step beyond its own factories towards some of its flagship chips. The company already uses TSMC to make a number of products, but outsourcing some of its most important processors will be a blow to Intel’s image. This issue is expected to be resolved with Intel’s Q4 financial results on Jan. 21.
Third Point also raised the question of whether Intel should continue to maintain its design and manufacturing operations and whether it should make some unsuccessful acquisitions.
At the same time, Intel has to fight strong competition from chip designers Advanced Micro Devices and Nvidia. They both tap into advanced manufacturing services in Asia, and their share prices have risen while Intel’s fell.