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During its history, when Intel hires a famous or rising star CPU engineer, the things don't end well. We can mention Bill Lattin, a hungarian rising star CPU Engineer when he was hired by Intel, in order to develop a new Arch in the late 1960s. He’s project was so futuristic ... that Intel managers shot down it. They decided to develop 8086 instead (An advanced version of 8080, just like x86-64 was an advanced version of x86). 8086 was a success (The begin of x86 era), while Lattin’s project has been forgotten. And Lattin, too. Why? Because:

  • Intel managers are always in a hurry;
  • engineers can’t do what they think it’s better for Intel (Only managers know it);
  • engineers grown up with Andy Groove’s mentality (Only paranoid survive);
  • Intel never hired external star engineers with success. All its top engineers were “Home Made” (John Crawford, Vinod Dham, etc).



That’s Intel … at least until today, we suppose. Jim Keller never lets anyone push him around. He knows what to do. He is the first top x86 engineer hired from outside.

This look like when AMD had K5 and Intel had Pentium. AMD was so surprised by the new Intel uArch (Pentium), so far superior to K5, that Jerry Sanders hired Vinod Dham and Atiq Raza, the fathers of K6. It's the same story, but with different characters.

Another interesting thing is that Intel has lost its FAB Technology leadership, this year. Thanks to the progress of advanced fabrication technology, Intel has been the leader of the market for 20 years, despite the missteps. Now, without that superiority, Intel has to innovate. How? Thinking different. Intel engineers are all son of a 20 years old mentality. That’s why the monolithic Skylake-X is a failure (And the “glue” of AMD is the future).

Last, but not the least, we don’t have to think that Intel is now save, with Raja Koduri and Jim Keller. 15 years ago, Intel had to battle just against AMD. Now Intel has to face different issues:

  • Foundry Business (TSMC, Samsung, GlobalFoundries)
  • Cloud Computing (AMD, ARM, Qualcomm)
  • FPGA (Xilinx)
  • Automotive/IA (Almost the whole IT industry)
  • Chinese market (VIA/Zhaoxin)

Intel is big, sure. But now it has a lot of enemies. And they are even bigger than Intel.

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Gian Maria Forni
Autore: Gian Maria Forni
Esperto in:
Esperto di mercati e CPU
Sebbene sia laureato in Lettere e Filosofia, indirizzo Storia Contemporanea, e scriva per quotidiani e riviste di tale settore, ha sempre avuto la passione per l'informatica ed ha collaborato quale moderatore in importanti forum del settore
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