Intel's CTO Justin Rattner is stepping down

Intel’s CTO and director of its labs Justin Rattner is stepping down to meet a requirement under the company’s bylaws that employees cannot serve as corporate officers after the age of 65.

Rattner will, however, return to Intel at a later date in an as yet undetermined role after taking personal leave immediately to deal with a “pressing family matter,” Intel said.

The company did not immediately announce a successor to Rattner, whose exit on account of the age limit would have been expected within the company. Intel Labs will report to Intel president Renée James until further decisions related to its leadership are made, the company said.

After Rattner’s return, he and the management team will decide what role he will play, said Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy in an email. “While we were certainly aware of Justin’s age our management team will use this opportunity to evaluate how we organize our R&D efforts including Intel labs,” he added.

The company has found it difficult to make a large impact on the smartphone and tablets markets, which have been dominated by chips built around the ARM architecture.

Intel’s new CEO Brian Krzanich admitted in May that the company has been weak in smartphones and tablets, but aims to improve by advancing chip and manufacturing technologies. Intel’s main focus is to produce more power-efficient chips, as it also adds features for connectivity and security. Intel’s upcoming chips based on its Silvermont architecture aim to outstrip ARM chips on both performance and power-efficiency.

[Now read: Intel’s next-gen CEO must get inside next-gen devices.]

Krzanich has thanked Rattner, who joined Intel in 1973, for “his leadership in creating one of the leading research organizations in the high tech industry”, according to a statement from Intel Thursday.

Rattner was named Intel’s first principal engineer in 1979, its fourth Intel Fellow in 1988 and was in the first group of Intel Fellows to be named Senior Fellow in 2001.

Updated at 10:37 a.m. PT with a comment from Intel.

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