How Intel will fare in the post-Otellini era

Otellini managed Intel's transition to a company striving for relevance in the mobile market.

By Loyd Case, PC World |  Hardware, Intel, Paul Otellini

Under Otellini's charge, Intel outward focus shifted away from producing power-hungry PC processors with high clock speeds to building power efficient processors suitable for mobile PCs, tablets and smart phones. By early 2006, the next Pentium M CPU, whose name had changed to Core, hit the market. The shift to more efficient processors allowed Apple to adopt Intel even as its own G series CPUs began running out of steam. Apple had been unwilling to use the hotter Netburst CPUs, which weren't a good fit for Apple's minimalist designs.

The final nail in Netburst's coffin arrived when Intel shipped the first desktop Core 2 Duo CPUs in the second half of 2006. At the time, raw CPU performance was still the watchword, but Core 2 heralded the beginning of the shift to power efficiency instead of pure performance. Today, Intel's various design groups put efficiency, as measured in performance per watt, ahead of more straightforward performance metrics. As Intel's Per Hammarlund noted at a session on Intel's upcoming Haswell CPU during the 2012 Intel Developer Forum, new CPU features are considered only if they don't consume more power, or at least, increase the performance per watt.

During Otellini's seven year tenure, Intel also honed its manufacturing chops, pushing its process technologies down to 22nm, and soon, 14nm. These are the highest density mainstream semiconductor processes in existence today, and Intels' manufacturing chops have as much to do with the company's success as its architectural designs. On the architectural side, Intel began building system-on-chip products suitable for tablets and high end smart phones, well aware that these mobile smart devices inevitably cannibalize PC sales.

Otellini's tenure hasn't been without its stumbles, most of them legal in nature. The company went through a messy and public legal war with AMD over Intel's hardball marketing tactics, which was finally settled in 2009 when Intel paid out $1.25 billion to its smaller competitor. Intel also paid Transmeta $150 million, plus an ongoing annual $20 million payment to settle a patent dispute. Other legal disputes outside the US, including Japan and the EU, have focused on Intel's aggressive marketing.


Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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