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As search for CEO continues, Intel gets back to chip basics at CES 2019 presentation

The chipmaker reveals new desktop chips and says it's on track to ship its 10nm processors.

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There were still hundreds of people in the audience at Intel's CES 2019 presentation Monday. A beat-boxing musician, sizzle reels and a big colorful screen lit up the stage. But the unavoidable subtext to the hour-long event was that the chipmaker is still waiting to hire a new CEO.

Without a permanent leader, the company put together a far more traditional presentation that focused solidly on its roadmap of chips for PCs and data centers, as well as its automotive chips for driver assistance systems. It wasn't dubbed a big keynote presentation, as with past years, and was held on a far smaller stage than last year. Following former CEO Brian Krzanich's rocky resignation last year, interim CEO Robert Swan wasn't part of the presentation. Gregory Bryant,  senior vice president for the client computing group, and Navin Shenoy, executive vice president for the data center group, hosted instead.

The two showed off six new desktop chips as part of its ninth-generation Intel Core processor line, confirmed the company is on track to release its new set of 10 nanometer chips starting next year and said its shipping its latest generation of Cascade Lake Intel Xeon data-center chips.

"We're making very good progress" to bring forward the newest 10nm chips, Shenoy told the crowd at Mandalay Bay.

While a single CES presentation doesn't come close to describing the whole story of a company, it was telling in how significantly smaller scale this year's event was from past presentations. Intel's stature has diminished at CES while it looks for a new leader. The event was also an opportunity for Intel to show it remains focused on its goals delivering the newest chips to companies and consumers despite the leadership search. Once it does find a new CEO, time will tell whether he or she will want to take up Intel's prior role as a glitzy, headline presenter at the world's largest tech show.

Krzanich, who took over as CEO in 2013, resigned in June  over a past relationship with an Intel employee. The resignation happened as Krzanich was dealing with blowback over two massive vulnerabilities (called Spectre and Meltdown) that potentially left chips from Intel, Arm and AMD open to hacking attacks. Finance chief Robert Swan has taken over as CEO, but the company is still searching for a permanent replacement.

Krzanich, who is now CEO of automotive company CDK Global, became known for sweeping and untraditional CES presentations, which included an all VR presentation from two years ago.

Last year brought a data-themed event at the Monte Carlo's Park Theater that included former NFL star Tony Romo, a synchronized group of dancing, light-up drones and a handful of brightly-colored dancers that bounced up and down on trampolines. Four years ago, Krzanich unveiled a $300 million initiative to increase diversity in the tech industry.

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