Intel turns 40! The journey so far and the road ahead
Intel has finally completed 40 years this week. Founded by semi-conductor pioneers Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore under the leadership of Andrew Grove, forty years ago Intel came into existence. On this day, Intel Corporation introduced the Intel 4004, triggering the start of the digital revolution.
Intrestingly, from the names, Robert Noyce and chemist Gordon Moore Intel was initially named 'Moore Noyce' which had apparent sound associations with 'more noise.' It was then converted to NM Electronics. After a year this name too was changed with what we now know as Intel, a short form for 'Integrated Electronics.'
Intel makes its silicon chips in a special area of the fab, called a cleanroom. Interestingly, all the technicians in Intel's cleanrooms wear an unusual kind of suit called the 'bunny suit'. The bunny suit became standard Intel cleanroom attire in 1973. To the reader’s surprise, Intel’s bunny suit is equal to more than three football fields.
In 1976, Intel launched the world's first single-board computer iSBC 80/10.
Despite the ultimate importance of Intel’s first microprocessor, the 4004 and its successors the 8008 and the 8080, these processors were never major revenue earners at Intel. As the next processor the 8086 was completed in 1978; Intel started major marketing and sales campaign for that chip. As a result, these chips won many customers.
During the 1990s, Intel invested heavily on new microprocessor designs leveraging the rapid growth of the computing industry. During this period, Intel became the dominant company for providing microprocessors for PCs against its major rival Advanced Micro Devices (AMD). When IBM introduced its desktop system powered with Intel’s 80286 processor in 1985 and in 1986 quickly followed with the first 80386-based system, these remarkably helped Intel to establish a competitive market for PC-compatible systems and setting up Intel as a key component supplier.
After 2000, growth in demand for high-end Intel’s microprocessors got slow down. Time between the years 2006-2008 was struggling period for Intel. At that time, Intel’s CEO Paul Otellini cut some 10,500 workforce from the company. The number was equivalent to 10 percent of the company's total employee at that time.
Intel’s undaunted supremacy suddenly got shaken when AMD’s Athlon processors bruised and busted the Intel chip (the Pentium III), from all angles.
AMD’s success couldn’t continue for long. Looking at the current scenario, the company now lags far behind Intel. Despite some decent inventions like Phenom II processors, AMD still falls short of Intel chips in terms of performance and power.
In the era of rapidly increasing mobility, PC makers are facing a tough challenge from smaller mobile devices. Sensing the changing trend, the chip giant is all set to jump into the tablet pool very soon. According to a latest report, Intel is trying to crack the tablet market by announcing new line of upcoming Atom processors. The first step towards this new direction has come with the Oak Trail processors, which Intel has launched specifically for tablets. Later, the company has also unveiled the successor to Oak Trail codenamed Cloverview.
Intel is also planning to foray in smartphone market. In April 2011, Intel Corporation began a pilot project to produce smartphones with ZTE Corporation for China's domestic market. The smartphone will be powered with Intel Atom processor. This latest move by Intel is intended to challenge the domination of ARM processors in mobile phones.
Seems, coming years will play a crucial role in deciding the fate for the chip maker Intel. But one thing is clear; Intel will continue to grow.
As for now, Happy 40th Birthday Intel!
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