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About four years ago, soon after Pat Gelsinger had switched roles at Intel, I got to sit down with him and my then boss, both of us working for another publication at the time, for a Q&A interview in between sessions at the Intel Developers Forum (IDF) in an empty, darkened auditorium at Moscone Center in San Francisco.

Gelsinger had been somewhat of a whiz kid at the chip giant, appointed as its first CTO at a young age. He is 48 now, and he joined Intel in 1979, when he would have still been a teenager.

A trained electrical engineer and the architect of IDF, Gelsinger traditionally presented the futures keynote address, talking about the far-out future technology that was still under wraps in one Intel lab or another.

But in 2005 he’d just switched to a more business-related role, heading up Intel’s enterprise division which had been recently formed out of the Itanium and business platform x86 processor divisions—responsible for contributing the largest chunk of revenues to Intel of any of the other divisions.

I remember wondering if he’d switched jobs because he had higher aspirations at Intel and was maybe looking to ultimately run the company where he’d spent his entire career. I believe I asked him during the interview why he switched roles, but didn’t get the kind of specific answer I was looking for.

Gelsinger took on the role of leading the enterprise group not long after Intel had announced that Paul Otellini would succeed Craig Barrett in the role of CEO.

And consider the previous two leaders of enterprise or Itanium—Mike Fister, who left Intel to become CEO of Cadence Design Systems (which makes software for chip design), and Abhi Talwalkar, who left Intel to become CEO of LSI Logic, a maker of controllers and other kinds of chips. To be the leader of the enterprise group at Intel was clearly a way to position oneself to launch into a CEO type of role.

But yesterday Intel announced that after 29 years with the company, Gelsinger was leaving to join storage giant EMC. Gelsinger will be moving from Oregon to Massachusetts.

He told the New York Times: “I’ve been public about my mission statement about wanting to be president of Intel. I’ve been working on that for a long time.” But such a promotion was not immediately forthcoming.

And a reorganization coming up at Intel—also announced yesterday—may not have positioned Gelsinger as a candidate to succeed Otellini.

Also, Gelsinger told the New York Times that a radical job change had suddenly become more practical now that his four children were grown up.

But Intel is going to miss Gelsinger. In 2005 the enterprise division was in tough shape. Several product launches had slipped. Intel was losing market share to AMD’s Opteron processor. The buzz was with AMD.

Since Gelsinger took over that job, the tables have turned again and Intel has got the momentum as AMD is scurrying so as not to lose more ground.

On Monday Intel named Sean Maloney and Dadi Perlmutter, both executive vice presidents, as jointly responsible for a new group that oversees microprocessor development. Maloney, who had most recently headed up Intel’s sales and marketing operations, will be in charge of the new group’s business and operations. Perlmutter, who was responsible for Intel’s Pentium M processor development as well as more recently its Core architecture and Atom, will head up product development at the new group. Both men have impressive resumes and are also fixtures at Intel.

The reshuffling of putting two in charge of a division is a return to Intel’s two-in-a-box management structure, pioneered by one of the company’s founders, Andy Grove.

Meanwhile, Gelsinger will be starting anew, serving as president and COO of information infrastructure products at EMC. I know many will wish him well there.