Qualcomm exec leaves to take charge at Michigan-based startup

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Qualcomm exec leaves to take charge at Michigan-based startup

Keith Kressin, the executive who oversaw Qualcomm Inc's artificial intelligence chip efforts, has left to take the top job at a Michigan-based semiconductor startup.

Kressin has become the CEO of MemryX, founded in 2019 by University of Michigan professors Wei Lu and Zhengya Zhan. MemryX is working on a second generation of a chip that will help cameras in places such as cars and factory robots recognize objects, a field called computer vision.

Kressin told Reuters he left Qualcomm, which is nearly tied with Intel Corp for the tile of second-largest U.S. chip firm by market value, for MemryX, which has only 30 employees, because he believes it solves a key problem in making artificial intelligence work in the real world.

Artificial intelligence models must be trained using powerful chips in data centers. They must be modified to fit into smaller chips inside cameras or other devices to be used outside data centers. The modifications - known as hand tuning - can be costly and time consuming.

MemryX aims to offer a chip that does not need hand tuning.

Kressin told Reuters that they don't need the intervening steps. It takes a long time to get traction because the software is so hard to use. MemryX said Lu, who previously served as CEO, will remain chairman of the board and become chief technology officer. Kressin has moved from Qualcomm's San Diego, California headquarters in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where the startup hopes to cultivate customers among carmakers who are adding chips to vehicles.

Kressin said that a lot of times in tech and AI, you don't talk much about the Midwest. One of the things that attracted me here was the opportunity in Michigan.