On eve of departure, Otellini looks back on four decades with Intel

Intel's CEO, who will retire soon, says the company can adapt to changes

By , IDG News Service |  IT Management

He touched on Intel's "tick-tock" development strategy, wherein it alternates between launching a new microarchitecure and a new manufacturing process. The strategy ensured regular chip advancements and stabilized Intel's product releases, development and manufacturing cycles. It was introduced at a time when Intel's product road map was uneven, and Advanced Micro Devices was taking away PC processor market share.

Intel also gained leadership in material sciences and moved ahead in manufacturing technologies, Otellini said. The company was the first to introduce chips with 3D transistors using the 22-nanometer manufacturing process, while some rivals are still trying to catch up.

Analysts have suggested Intel's future might lie in a full-fledged foundry strategy, where it manufactures chips for third parties like the contract manufacturers GlobalFoundries and TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.). There's been speculation that Intel could make the chips for Apple's iPhone and iPad, and the chip maker has already signed deals to make FPGAs (field-programmable gate arrays) for Tabula, Altera and Achronix using the 22-nanometer and upcoming 14-nanometer processes. Intel will start making chips in 14-nm factories later this year, with chips due to ship next year in PCs.

Otellini expressed confidence the PC market will return to growth in the second half of this year, driven by its new Haswell chips, more touch-based products and improvements in the overall global economy.

When Otellini joined Intel in the '70s, the microprocessor "had barely been invented," Brookwood said. Intel was primarily a memory company and later moved into microprocessors. The PC industry is again in transition, and Intel is pushing new processors, new laptop designs, and tools for enabling voice and gesture controls, in a bid to spur new innovation and growth.

"The company's resourceful. There's still plenty of opportunities there," Brookwood said.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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