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Intel

American semiconductor chip manufacturer

Top 10 Intel related articles

Coordinates: 37°23′16″N 121°57′49″W / 37.38778°N 121.96361°W / 37.38778; -121.96361

Intel Corporation
FormerlyN M Electronics (1968)
TypePublic
IndustrySemiconductors
FoundedJuly 18, 1968; 52 years ago (1968-07-18)
FoundersGordon Moore
Robert Noyce
Headquarters,
U.S.
Area served
Worldwide
Key people
Gordon Moore
(Chairman Emeritus)
Omar Ishrak
(Chairman)
Pat Gelsinger
(CEO)
Ajay Bhatt
(Chief Client Platform Architect)
ProductsCentral processing units
Microprocessors
Integrated graphics processing units (iGPU)
Systems-on-chip (SoCs)
Motherboard chipsets
Network interface controllers
Modems
Mobile phones
Solid state drives
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Chipsets
Flash memory
Vehicle automation Sensors
Revenue US$77.87 billion (2020)[1]
US$23.68 billion (2020)[1]
US$20.9 billion (2020)[1]
Total assets US$153.09 billion (2020)[1]
Total equity US$81.04 billion (2020)[1]
Number of employees
110,600 (2020)[2]
Subsidiaries
Websitewww.intel.com

Intel Corporation is an American multinational corporation and technology company headquartered in Santa Clara, California, in Silicon Valley. It is the world's largest semiconductor chip manufacturer by revenue,[4][5] and is the developer of the x86 series of microprocessors, the processors found in most personal computers (PCs). Incorporated in Delaware,[6] Intel ranked No. 45 in the 2020 Fortune 500 list of the largest United States corporations by total revenue.[7]

Intel supplies microprocessors for computer system manufacturers such as Lenovo, HP, and Dell. Intel also manufactures motherboard chipsets, network interface controllers and integrated circuits, flash memory, graphics chips, embedded processors and other devices related to communications and computing.

Intel Corporation was founded on July 18, 1968 by semiconductor pioneers Gordon Moore (of Moore's law) and Robert Noyce, and the executive leadership and vision of Andrew Grove. The company's name was conceived as portmanteau of the words integrated and electronics, with co-founder Noyce having been a key inventor of the integrated circuit (microchip). The fact that "intel" is the term for intelligence information also made the name appropriate.[8] Intel was an early developer of SRAM and DRAM memory chips, which represented the majority of its business until 1981. Although Intel created the world's first commercial microprocessor chip in 1971, it was not until the success of the personal computer (PC) that this became its primary business.

During the 1990s, Intel invested heavily in new microprocessor designs fostering the rapid growth of the computer industry. During this period, Intel became the dominant supplier of microprocessors for PCs and was known for aggressive and anti-competitive tactics in defense of its market position, particularly against Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), as well as a struggle with Microsoft for control over the direction of the PC industry.[9][10]

The Open Source Technology Center at Intel hosts PowerTOP and LatencyTOP, and supports other open-source projects such as Wayland, Mesa3D, Threading Building Blocks (TBB), and Xen.[11]

Intel Intro articles: 58

Current operations

Operating segments

  • Client Computing Group – 51.8% of 2020 revenues – produces hardware components used in desktop and notebook computers.[12]
  • Data Center Group – 33.7% of 2020 revenues – produces hardware components used in server, network, and storage platforms.[12]
  • Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group – 6.9% of 2020 revenues – manufactures NAND flash memory and 3D XPoint, branded as Optane, products primarily used in solid-state drives.[12]
  • Internet of Things Group – 5.2% of 2020 revenues – offers platforms designed for retail, transportation, industrial, buildings and home use.[12]
  • Programmable Solutions Group – 2.4% of 2020 revenues – manufactures programmable semiconductors (primarily FPGAs).[12]

Top customers

In 2020, Dell accounted for about 17% of Intel's total revenues, Lenovo accounted for 12% of total revenues, and HP Inc. accounted for 10% of total revenues.[13]

Market share

According to IDC, while Intel enjoyed the biggest market share in both the overall worldwide PC microprocessor market (73.3%) and the mobile PC microprocessor (80.4%) in the second quarter of 2011, the numbers decreased by 1.5% and 1.9% compared to the first quarter of 2011.[14][15]

Intel's market share decreased significantly in the enthusiast market as of 2019,[16] and they have faced delays for their 10 nm products. According to Intel CEO Bob Swan, the delay was caused by the company's overly aggressive strategy for moving to its next node.[17]

Historical market share

In the 1980s Intel was among the top ten sellers of semiconductors (10th in 1987) in the world. In 1992,[18] Intel became the biggest chip maker by revenue and held the position until 2018 when it was surpassed by Samsung, but Intel returned to its former position the year after.[19] Other top semiconductor companies include TSMC, Advanced Micro Devices, Samsung, Texas Instruments, Toshiba and STMicroelectronics.

Major competitors

Intel's competitors in PC chipsets included Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), VIA Technologies, Silicon Integrated Systems, and Nvidia. Intel's competitors in networking include NXP Semiconductors, Infineon, Broadcom Limited, Marvell Technology Group and Applied Micro Circuits Corporation, and competitors in flash memory included Spansion, Samsung Electronics, Qimonda, Toshiba, STMicroelectronics, and SK Hynix.

The only major competitor in the x86 processor market is AMD, with which Intel has had full cross-licensing agreements since 1976: each partner can use the other's patented technological innovations without charge after a certain time.[20] However, the cross-licensing agreement is canceled in the event of an AMD bankruptcy or takeover.[21]

Some smaller competitors such as VIA Technologies produce low-power x86 processors for small factor computers and portable equipment. However, the advent of such mobile computing devices, in particular, smartphones, has in recent years led to a decline in PC sales.[22] Since over 95% of the world's smartphones currently use processors designed by ARM Holdings, ARM has become a major competitor for Intel's processor market. ARM is also planning to make inroads into the PC and server market.[23]

Intel has been involved in several disputes regarding violation of antitrust laws, which are noted below.

Intel Current operations articles: 24

Corporate history

Origins

Intel was founded in Mountain View, California, in 1968 by Gordon E. Moore (known for "Moore's law"), a chemist, and Robert Noyce, a physicist and co-inventor of the integrated circuit. Arthur Rock (investor and venture capitalist) helped them find investors, while Max Palevsky was on the board from an early stage.[24] Moore and Noyce had left Fairchild Semiconductor to found Intel. Rock was not an employee, but he was an investor and was chairman of the board.[25][26] The total initial investment in Intel was $2.5 million in convertible debentures (equivalent to $18.4 million in 2019) and $10,000 from Rock. Just 2 years later, Intel became a public company via an initial public offering (IPO), raising $6.8 million ($23.50 per share).[25] Intel's third employee was Andy Grove,[27] a chemical engineer, who later ran the company through much of the 1980s and the high-growth 1990s.

In deciding on a name, Moore and Noyce quickly rejected "Moore Noyce",[28] near homophone for "more noise" – an ill-suited name for an electronics company, since noise in electronics is usually undesirable and typically associated with bad interference. Instead, they founded the company as NM Electronics on July 18, 1968, but by the end of the month had changed the name to Intel which stood for Integrated Electronics.[note 1] Since "Intel" was already trademarked by the hotel chain Intelco, they had to buy the rights for the name.[25][34]

Early history

At its founding, Intel was distinguished by its ability to make logic circuits using semiconductor devices. The founders' goal was the semiconductor memory market, widely predicted to replace magnetic-core memory. Its first product, a quick entry into the small, high-speed memory market in 1969, was the 3101 Schottky TTL bipolar 64-bit static random-access memory (SRAM), which was nearly twice as fast as earlier Schottky diode implementations by Fairchild and the Electrotechnical Laboratory in Tsukuba, Japan.[35][36] In the same year, Intel also produced the 3301 Schottky bipolar 1024-bit read-only memory (ROM)[37] and the first commercial metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET) silicon gate SRAM chip, the 256-bit 1101.[25][38][39]

While the 1101 was a significant advance, its complex static cell structure made it too slow and costly for mainframe memories. The three-transistor cell implemented in the first commercially available dynamic random-access memory (DRAM), the 1103 released in 1970, solved these issues. The 1103 was the bestselling semiconductor memory chip in the world by 1972, as it replaced core memory in many applications.[40][41] Intel's business grew during the 1970s as it expanded and improved its manufacturing processes and produced a wider range of products, still dominated by various memory devices.

Federico Faggin, designer of the Intel 4004

Intel created the first commercially available microprocessor (Intel 4004) in 1971.[25] The microprocessor represented a notable advance in the technology of integrated circuitry, as it miniaturized the central processing unit of a computer, which then made it possible for small machines to perform calculations that in the past only very large machines could do. Considerable technological innovation was needed before the microprocessor could actually become the basis of what was first known as a "mini computer" and then known as a "personal computer".[42] Intel also created one of the first microcomputers in 1973.[38][43]

Intel opened its first international manufacturing facility in 1972, in Malaysia, which would host multiple Intel operations, before opening assembly facilities and semiconductor plants in Singapore and Jerusalem in the early 1980s, and manufacturing and development centres in China, India and Costa Rica in the 1990s.[44] By the early 1980s, its business was dominated by dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) chips. However, increased competition from Japanese semiconductor manufacturers had, by 1983, dramatically reduced the profitability of this market. The growing success of the IBM personal computer, based on an Intel microprocessor, was among factors that convinced Gordon Moore (CEO since 1975) to shift the company's focus to microprocessors and to change fundamental aspects of that business model. Moore's decision to sole-source Intel's 386 chip played into the company's continuing success.

By the end of the 1980s, buoyed by its fortuitous position as microprocessor supplier to IBM and IBM's competitors within the rapidly growing personal computer market, Intel embarked on a 10-year period of unprecedented growth as the primary (and most profitable) hardware supplier to the PC industry, part of the winning 'Wintel' combination. Moore handed over to Andy Grove in 1987. By launching its Intel Inside marketing campaign in 1991, Intel was able to associate brand loyalty with consumer selection, so that by the end of the 1990s, its line of Pentium processors had become a household name.

Slowing demand and challenges to dominance in 2000

After 2000, growth in demand for high-end microprocessors slowed. Competitors, notably AMD (Intel's largest competitor in its primary x86 architecture market), garnered significant market share, initially in low-end and mid-range processors but ultimately across the product range, and Intel's dominant position in its core market was greatly reduced,[45] mostly due to controversial NetBurst microarchitecture. In the early 2000s then-CEO, Craig Barrett attempted to diversify the company's business beyond semiconductors, but few of these activities were ultimately successful.

Litigation

Intel had also for a number of years been embroiled in litigation. US law did not initially recognize intellectual property rights related to microprocessor topology (circuit layouts), until the Semiconductor Chip Protection Act of 1984, a law sought by Intel and the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA).[46] During the late 1980s and 1990s (after this law was passed), Intel also sued companies that tried to develop competitor chips to the 80386 CPU.[47] The lawsuits were noted to significantly burden the competition with legal bills, even if Intel lost the suits.[47] Antitrust allegations had been simmering since the early 1990s and had been the cause of one lawsuit against Intel in 1991. In 2004 and 2005, AMD brought further claims against Intel related to unfair competition.

Regaining of momentum (2005–2007)

In 2005, CEO Paul Otellini reorganized the company to refocus its core processor and chipset business on platforms (enterprise, digital home, digital health, and mobility).

In 2006, Intel unveiled its Core microarchitecture to widespread critical acclaim;[48] the product range was perceived as an exceptional leap in processor performance that at a stroke regained much of its leadership of the field.[49][50] In 2008, Intel had another "tick" when it introduced the Penryn microarchitecture, which was 45 nm. Later that year, Intel released a processor with the Nehalem architecture. Nehalem had positive reviews.[51]

Sale of XScale processor business (2006)

On June 27, 2006, the sale of Intel's XScale assets was announced. Intel agreed to sell the XScale processor business to Marvell Technology Group for an estimated $600 million and the assumption of unspecified liabilities. The move was intended to permit Intel to focus its resources on its core x86 and server businesses, and the acquisition completed on November 9, 2006.[52]

Acquisitions and investments (2010–present)

In 2010, Intel purchased McAfee, a manufacturer of computer security technology, for $7.68 billion.[53] As a condition for regulatory approval of the transaction, Intel agreed to provide rival security firms with all necessary information that would allow their products to use Intel's chips and personal computers.[54] After the acquisition, Intel had about 90,000 employees, including about 12,000 software engineers.[55] In September 2016, Intel sold a majority stake in its computer-security unit to TPG Capital, reversing the five-year-old McAfee acquisition.[56]

In August 2010, Intel and Infineon Technologies announced that Intel would acquire Infineon's Wireless Solutions business.[57] Intel planned to use Infineon's technology in laptops, smart phones, netbooks, tablets and embedded computers in consumer products, eventually integrating its wireless modem into Intel's silicon chips.[58]

In March 2011, Intel bought most of the assets of Cairo-based SySDSoft.[59]

In July 2011, Intel announced that it had agreed to acquire Fulcrum Microsystems Inc., a company specializing in network switches.[60] The company used to be included on the EE Times list of 60 Emerging Startups.[60]

In October 2011, Intel reached a deal to acquire Telmap, an Israeli-based navigation software company. The purchase price was not disclosed, but Israeli media reported values around $300 million to $350 million.[61]

In July 2012, Intel agreed to buy 10% of the shares of ASML Holding NV for $2.1 billion and another $1 billion for 5% of the shares that need shareholder approval to fund relevant research and development efforts, as part of a EUR3.3 billion ($4.1 billion) deal to accelerate the development of 450-millimeter wafer technology and extreme ultra-violet lithography by as much as two years.[62]

In July 2013, Intel confirmed the acquisition of Omek Interactive, an Israeli company that makes technology for gesture-based interfaces, without disclosing the monetary value of the deal. An official statement from Intel read: "The acquisition of Omek Interactive will help increase Intel's capabilities in the delivery of more immersive perceptual computing experiences." One report estimated the value of the acquisition between US$30 million and $50 million.[63]

The acquisition of a Spanish natural language recognition startup, Indisys was announced in September 2013. The terms of the deal were not disclosed but an email from an Intel representative stated: "Intel has acquired Indisys, a privately held company based in Seville, Spain. The majority of Indisys employees joined Intel. We signed the agreement to acquire the company on May 31 and the deal has been completed." Indysis explains that its artificial intelligence (AI) technology "is a human image, which converses fluently and with common sense in multiple languages and also works in different platforms."[64]

In December 2014, Intel bought PasswordBox.[65]

In January 2015, Intel purchased a 30% stake in Vuzix, a smart glasses manufacturer. The deal was worth $24.8 million.[66]

In February 2015, Intel announced its agreement to purchase German network chipmaker Lantiq, to aid in its expansion of its range of chips in devices with Internet connection capability.[67]

In June 2015, Intel announced its agreement to purchase FPGA design company Altera for $16.7 billion, in its largest acquisition to date.[68] The acquisition completed in December 2015.[69]

In October 2015, Intel bought cognitive computing company Saffron Technology for an undisclosed price.[70]

In August 2016, Intel purchased deep-learning startup Nervana Systems for $350 million.[71]

In December 2016, Intel acquired computer vision startup Movidius for an undisclosed price.[72]

In March 2017, Intel announced that they had agreed to purchase Mobileye, an Israeli developer of "autonomous driving" systems for US$15.3 billion.[73]

In June 2017, Intel Corporation announced an investment of over Rs.1100 crore ($170 million) for its upcoming Research and Development (R&D) centre in Bangalore.[74]

In January 2019, Intel announced an investment of over $11 billion on a new Israeli chip plant, as told by the Israeli Finance Minister.[75]

Acquisition table (2009–present)

Intel acquisitions since 2009
Number Acquisition announcement date Company Business Country Price Used as or integrated with Ref(s).
1 June 4, 2009 Wind River Systems Embedded Systems  US $884M Software [76]
2 August 19, 2010 McAfee Security  US $7.6B Software [77]
3 August 30, 2010 Infineon (partial) Wireless  Germany $1.4B Mobile CPUs [78]
4 March 17, 2011 Silicon Hive DSP  Netherlands N/A Mobile CPUs [79]
5 September 29, 2011 Telmap Software  Israel $300–350M Location Services [80]
6 October 30, 2011 Invision Software  Israel $50–60M Software [81]
7 April 13, 2013 Mashery API Management  US $180M Software [82]
8 May 6, 2013 Stonesoft Corporation Security  Finland $389M Software [83]
9 July 16, 2013 Omek Interactive Gesture  Israel N/A Software [63]
10 September 13, 2013 Indisys Natural language processing  Spain N/A Software [64]
11 March 25, 2014 BASIS Wearable  US N/A New Devices [84]
12 August 13, 2014 Avago Technologies (partial) Semiconductor  US $650M Communications Processors [85]
13 December 1, 2014 PasswordBox Security  Canada N/A Software [86]
14 January 5, 2015 Vuzix Wearable  US $24.8M New Devices [87]
15 February 2, 2015 Lantiq Telecom  Germany $345M Gateways [88]
16 June 1, 2015 Altera Semiconductor  US $16.7B Programmable Solutions Group (PSG) - e.g. FPGAs [68]
17 June 18, 2015 Recon Wearable  US $175M New Devices [89]
18 October 26, 2015 Saffron Technology Cognitive computing  US undisclosed Software [70]
19 January 4, 2016 Ascending Technologies UAVs  Germany undisclosed New Technology [90]
20 March 9, 2016 Replay Technologies Video technology  Israel undisclosed 3D video technology [91]
21 April 5, 2016 Yogitech IoT security and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems.  Italy undisclosed Software [92]
22 August 9, 2016 Nervana Systems Machine learning technology  US $350M New Technology [93]
23 September 6, 2016 Movidius Computer vision  Ireland undisclosed New Technology [72]
24 March 16, 2017 Mobileye Autonomous vehicle technology  Israel $15B Self driving technology [94][95]
25 July 12, 2018 eASIC Semiconductor  US undisclosed Programmable Solutions Group [96]
26 April 16, 2019 Omnitek FPGA Video Acceleration  UK undisclosed Video acceleration [97][98]
27 June 10, 2019 Barefoot Networks Networking  US undisclosed Network switches [99]
28 December 16, 2019 Habana Labs Machine learning technology  Israel $2B New Technology [100]
29 May 4, 2020 Moovit Transit data  Israel $900M Transit data [101]
30 May 20, 2020 Rivet Networks Networking  US undisclosed [102]
31 September 24, 2020 Cosmonio Computer vision  Netherlands undisclosed Software [103]

Expansions (2008–2011)

In 2008, Intel spun off key assets of a solar startup business effort to form an independent company, SpectraWatt Inc. In 2011, SpectraWatt filed for bankruptcy.[104]

In February 2011, Intel began to build a new microprocessor manufacturing facility in Chandler, Arizona, completed in 2013 at a cost of $5 billion.[105] The building is now the 10 nm-certified Fab 42 and is connected to the other Fabs (12, 22, 32) on Ocotillo Campus via an enclosed bridge known as the Link.[106][107][108][109] The company produces three-quarters of its products in the United States, although three-quarters of its revenue come from overseas.[110]

In April 2011, Intel began a pilot project with ZTE Corporation to produce smartphones using the Intel Atom processor for China's domestic market.

In December 2011, Intel announced that it reorganized several of its business units into a new mobile and communications group[111] that would be responsible for the company's smartphone, tablet, and wireless efforts.

Opening up the foundries to other manufacturers (2013)

Finding itself with excess fab capacity after the failure of the Ultrabook to gain market traction and with PC sales declining, in 2013 Intel reached a foundry agreement to produce chips for Altera using 14-nm process. General Manager of Intel's custom foundry division Sunit Rikhi indicated that Intel would pursue further such deals in the future.[112] This was after poor sales of Windows 8 hardware caused a major retrenchment for most of the major semiconductor manufacturers, except for Qualcomm, which continued to see healthy purchases from its largest customer, Apple.[113]

As of July 2013, five companies were using Intel's fabs via the Intel Custom Foundry division: Achronix, Tabula, Netronome, Microsemi, and Panasonic – most are field-programmable gate array (FPGA) makers, but Netronome designs network processors. Only Achronix began shipping chips made by Intel using the 22-nm Tri-Gate process.[114][115] Several other customers also exist but were not announced at the time.[116]

The Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) was launched in October 2013 and Intel is part of the coalition of public and private organisations that also includes Facebook, Google, and Microsoft. Led by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the A4AI seeks to make Internet access more affordable so that access is broadened in the developing world, where only 31% of people are online. Google will help to decrease Internet access prices so that they fall below the UN Broadband Commission's worldwide target of 5% of monthly income.[117]

In October 2018, Arm Holdings partnered with Intel in order to share code for embedded systems through the Yocto Project.[118]

On July 25, 2019, Apple and Intel announced an agreement for Apple to acquire the smartphone modem business of Intel Mobile Communications for US$1 billion.[119]

Intel Corporate history articles: 118

Product and market history

SRAMS and the microprocessor

Intel's first products were shift register memory and random-access memory integrated circuits, and Intel grew to be a leader in the fiercely competitive DRAM, SRAM, and ROM markets throughout the 1970s. Concurrently, Intel engineers Marcian Hoff, Federico Faggin, Stanley Mazor and Masatoshi Shima invented Intel's first microprocessor. Originally developed for the Japanese company Busicom to replace a number of ASICs in a calculator already produced by Busicom, the Intel 4004 was introduced to the mass market on November 15, 1971, though the microprocessor did not become the core of Intel's business until the mid-1980s. (Note: Intel is usually given credit with Texas Instruments for the almost-simultaneous invention of the microprocessor)

From DRAM to microprocessors

In 1983, at the dawn of the personal computer era, Intel's profits came under increased pressure from Japanese memory-chip manufacturers, and then-president Andy Grove focused the company on microprocessors. Grove described this transition in the book Only the Paranoid Survive. A key element of his plan was the notion, then considered radical, of becoming the single source for successors to the popular 8086 microprocessor.

Until then, the manufacture of complex integrated circuits was not reliable enough for customers to depend on a single supplier, but Grove began producing processors in three geographically distinct factories, and ceased licensing the chip designs to competitors such as Zilog and AMD. When the PC industry boomed in the late 1980s and 1990s, Intel was one of the primary beneficiaries.

Intel, early x86 processors, and the IBM PC

The die from an Intel 8742, an 8-bit microcontroller that includes a CPU running at 12 MHz, 128 bytes of RAM, 2048 bytes of EPROM, and I/O in the same chip

Despite the ultimate importance of the microprocessor, the 4004 and its successors the 8008 and the 8080 were never major revenue contributors at Intel. As the next processor, the 8086 (and its variant the 8088) was completed in 1978, Intel embarked on a major marketing and sales campaign for that chip nicknamed "Operation Crush", and intended to win as many customers for the processor as possible. One design win was the newly created IBM PC division, though the importance of this was not fully realized at the time.

IBM introduced its personal computer in 1981, and it was rapidly successful. In 1982, Intel created the 80286 microprocessor, which, two years later, was used in the IBM PC/AT. Compaq, the first IBM PC "clone" manufacturer, produced a desktop system based on the faster 80286 processor in 1985 and in 1986 quickly followed with the first 80386-based system, beating IBM and establishing a competitive market for PC-compatible systems and setting up Intel as a key component supplier.

In 1975, the company had started a project to develop a highly advanced 32-bit microprocessor, finally released in 1981 as the Intel iAPX 432. The project was too ambitious and the processor was never able to meet its performance objectives, and it failed in the marketplace. Intel extended the x86 architecture to 32 bits instead.[120][121]

386 microprocessor

During this period Andrew Grove dramatically redirected the company, closing much of its DRAM business and directing resources to the microprocessor business. Of perhaps greater importance was his decision to "single-source" the 386 microprocessor. Prior to this, microprocessor manufacturing was in its infancy, and manufacturing problems frequently reduced or stopped production, interrupting supplies to customers. To mitigate this risk, these customers typically insisted that multiple manufacturers produce chips they could use to ensure a consistent supply. The 8080 and 8086-series microprocessors were produced by several companies, notably AMD, with which Intel had a technology-sharing contract.

Grove made the decision not to license the 386 design to other manufacturers, instead, producing it in three geographically distinct factories: Santa Clara, California; Hillsboro, Oregon; and Chandler, a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona. He convinced customers that this would ensure consistent delivery. In doing this, Intel breached its contract with AMD, which sued and was paid millions of dollars in damages but could not manufacture new Intel CPU designs any longer. (Instead, AMD started to develop and manufacture its own competing x86 designs.)

As the success of Compaq's Deskpro 386 established the 386 as the dominant CPU choice, Intel achieved a position of near-exclusive dominance as its supplier. Profits from this funded rapid development of both higher-performance chip designs and higher-performance manufacturing capabilities, propelling Intel to a position of unquestioned leadership by the early 1990s.

486, Pentium, and Itanium

Intel introduced the 486 microprocessor in 1989, and in 1990 established a second design team, designing the processors code-named "P5" and "P6" in parallel and committing to a major new processor every two years, versus the four or more years such designs had previously taken. Engineers Vinod Dham and Rajeev Chandrasekhar (Member of Parliament, India) were key figures on the core team that invented the 486 chip and later, Intel's signature Pentium chip. The P5 project was earlier known as "Operation Bicycle," referring to the cycles of the processor through two parallel execution pipelines. The P5 was introduced in 1993 as the Intel Pentium, substituting a registered trademark name for the former part number (numbers, such as 486, cannot be legally registered as trademarks in the United States). The P6 followed in 1995 as the Pentium Pro and improved into the Pentium II in 1997. New architectures were developed alternately in Santa Clara, California and Hillsboro, Oregon.

The Santa Clara design team embarked in 1993 on a successor to the x86 architecture, codenamed "P7". The first attempt was dropped a year later but quickly revived in a cooperative program with Hewlett-Packard engineers, though Intel soon took over primary design responsibility. The resulting implementation of the IA-64 64-bit architecture was the Itanium, finally introduced in June 2001. The Itanium's performance running legacy x86 code did not meet expectations, and it failed to compete effectively with x86-64, which was AMD's 64-bit extension of the 32-bit x86 architecture (Intel uses the name Intel 64, previously EM64T). In 2017, Intel announced that the Itanium 9700 series (Kittson) would be the last Itanium chips produced.[122][123]

The Hillsboro team designed the Willamette processors (initially code-named P68), which were marketed as the Pentium 4.

During this period, Intel undertook two major supporting advertising campaigns. The first campaign, the 1991 "Intel Inside" marketing and branding campaign, is widely known and has become synonymous with Intel itself. The idea of "ingredient branding" was new at the time, with only NutraSweet and a few others making attempts to do so.[124] This campaign established Intel, which had been a component supplier little-known outside the PC industry, as a household name.

The second campaign, Intel's Systems Group, which began in the early 1990s, showcased manufacturing of PC motherboards, the main board component of a personal computer, and the one into which the processor (CPU) and memory (RAM) chips are plugged.[125] The Systems Group campaign was lesser known than the Intel Inside campaign.

Shortly after, Intel began manufacturing fully configured "white box" systems for the dozens of PC clone companies that rapidly sprang up. At its peak in the mid-1990s, Intel manufactured over 15% of all PCs, making it the third-largest supplier at the time.

During the 1990s, Intel Architecture Labs (IAL) was responsible for many of the hardware innovations for the PC, including the PCI Bus, the PCI Express (PCIe) bus, and Universal Serial Bus (USB). IAL's software efforts met with a more mixed fate; its video and graphics software was important in the development of software digital video, but later its efforts were largely overshadowed by competition from Microsoft. The competition between Intel and Microsoft was revealed in testimony by then IAL Vice-President Steven McGeady at the Microsoft antitrust trial (United States v. Microsoft Corp.).

Pentium flaw

In June 1994, Intel engineers discovered a flaw in the floating-point math subsection of the P5 Pentium microprocessor. Under certain data-dependent conditions, the low-order bits of the result of a floating-point division would be incorrect. The error could compound in subsequent calculations. Intel corrected the error in a future chip revision, and under public pressure it issued a total recall and replaced the defective Pentium CPUs (which were limited to some 60, 66, 75, 90, and 100 MHz models[126]) on customer request.

The bug was discovered independently in October 1994 by Thomas Nicely, Professor of Mathematics at Lynchburg College. He contacted Intel but received no response. On October 30, he posted a message about his finding on the Internet.[127] Word of the bug spread quickly and reached the industry press. The bug was easy to replicate; a user could enter specific numbers into the calculator on the operating system. Consequently, many users did not accept Intel's statements that the error was minor and "not even an erratum." During Thanksgiving, in 1994, The New York Times ran a piece by journalist John Markoff spotlighting the error. Intel changed its position and offered to replace every chip, quickly putting in place a large end-user support organization. This resulted in a $475 million charge against Intel's 1994 revenue.[128] Dr. Nicely later learned that Intel had discovered the FDIV bug in its own testing a few months before him (but had decided not to inform customers).[129]

The "Pentium flaw" incident, Intel's response to it, and the surrounding media coverage propelled Intel from being a technology supplier generally unknown to most computer users to a household name. Dovetailing with an uptick in the "Intel Inside" campaign, the episode is considered to have been a positive event for Intel, changing some of its business practices to be more end-user focused and generating substantial public awareness, while avoiding a lasting negative impression.[130]

Intel Core

The Intel Core line originated from the original Core brand, with the release of the 32-bit Yonah CPU, Intel's first dual-core mobile (low-power) processor. Derived from the Pentium M, the processor family used an enhanced version of the P6 microarchitecture. Its successor, the Core 2 family, was released on July 27, 2006. This was based on the Intel Core microarchitecture, and was a 64-bit design.[131] Instead of focusing on higher clock rates, the Core microarchitecture emphasized power effiency and a return to lower clock speeds.[132] It also provided more efficient decoding stages, execution units, caches, and buses, reducing the power consumption of Core 2-branded CPUs while increasing their processing capacity.

In November 2008, Intel released the first generation Core processors based on the Nehalem microarchitecture. Intel also introduced a new naming scheme, with the three variants now named Core i3, i5, and i7. Unlike the previous naming scheme, these names no longer correspond to specific technical features. It was succeeded by the Westmere microarchitecture in 2010, with a die shrink to 32 nm and included Intel HD Graphics.

In 2011, Intel released the Sandy Bridge-based 2nd generation Core processor family. This generation featured an 11% performance increase over Nehalem.[133] It was succeeded by Ivy Bridge-based 3rd generation Core, introduced at the 2012 Intel Developer Forum.[134] Ivy Bridge featured a die shrink to 22 nm, and supported both DDR3 memory and DDR3L chips.

Intel continued its tick-tock model of a microarchitecture change followed by a die shrink until the 6th generation Core family based on the Skylake microarchitecture. This model was deprecated in 2016, with the release of the seventh generation Core family based on Kaby Lake, ushering in the process–architecture–optimization model.[135] From 2016 until 2021, Intel later released more optimizations on the Skylake microarchitecture with Kaby Lake R, Amber Lake, Whiskey Lake, Coffee Lake, Coffee Lake R, and Comet Lake.[136][137][138][139] Intel struggled to shrink their process node from 14 nm to 10 nm, with the first microarchitecture under that node, Cannon Lake (marketed as 8th generation Core), only being released in small quantities in 2018.[140][141]

In 2019, Intel released the 10th generation Core processors. There were three microarchitectures under this generation, Amber Lake, Comet Lake, and Ice Lake. Ice Lake, based on the Sunny Cove microarchitecture, was produced on the 10 nm process and was limited to mobile processors. Both Amber Lake and Comet Lake were based on a refined 14 nm node, with the latter used for low power mobile CPUs and the latter being used for desktop and high performance mobile products.

In 2020, the 11th generation Core processors were launched. Under this generation, mobile and desktop CPUs had two separate microarchitectures. Tiger Lake, based on the Willow Cove microarchitecture and a refined 10 nm node, is used for mobile processors,[142] while Rocket Lake, manufactured on the 14 nm process and is based on the Cypress Cove microarchitecture (a backport of the 10 nm Sunny Cove microarchitecture),[143] replaced Comet Lake desktop processors. All 11th generation Core processors feature new integrated graphics based on the Intel Xe microarchitecture.[144]

The Core family is set to be unified under a single microarchitecture once again in 2021, with the release of the 12th generation Core family, codenamed Alder Lake. This generation will feature an enhanced version of Intel's 10 nm process for both desktop and mobile processors, and is based on a hybrid architecture utilizing big Golden Cove cores and small Gracemont (Atom) cores.[145]

2018–2020 security flaws

In early January 2018, it was reported that all Intel processors made since 1995[146][147] (besides Intel Itanium and pre-2013 Intel Atom) have been subject to two security flaws dubbed Meltdown and Spectre.[148][149]

The impact on performance resulting from software patches is "workload-dependent". Several procedures to help protect home computers and related devices from the Spectre and Meltdown security vulnerabilities have been published.[150][151][152][153] Spectre patches have been reported to significantly slow down performance, especially on older computers; on the newer 8th generation Core platforms, benchmark performance drops of 2–14 percent have been measured.[154] Meltdown patches may also produce performance loss.[155][156][157] It is believed that "hundreds of millions" of systems could be affected by these flaws.[147][158]

On March 15, 2018, Intel reported that it will redesign its CPUs (performance losses to be determined) to protect against the Spectre security vulnerability, and expects to release the newly redesigned processors later in 2018.[159][160]

On May 3, 2018, eight additional Spectre-class flaws were reported. Intel reported that they are preparing new patches to mitigate these flaws.[161]

On August 14, 2018, Intel disclosed three additional chip flaws referred to as L1 Terminal Fault (L1TF). They reported that previously released microcode updates, along with new, pre-release microcode updates can be used to mitigate these flaws.[162][163]

On January 18, 2019, Intel disclosed three new vulnerabilities affecting all Intel CPUs, named "Fallout", "RIDL", and "ZombieLoad", allowing a program to read information recently written, read data in the line-fill buffers and load ports, and leak information from other processes and virtual machines.[164][165][166] Recent Coffeelake-series CPUs are even more vulnerable, due to hardware mitigations for Spectre.

On March 5, 2020, computer security experts reported another Intel chip security flaw, besides the Meltdown and Spectre flaws, with the systematic name CVE-2019-0090 (or, "Intel CSME Bug").[167] This newly found flaw is not fixable with a firmware update, and affects nearly "all Intel chips released in the past five years".[168][169][170]

Remote Keyboard Android App

Intel has decided to discontinue with their recent Intel Remote Keyboard Android app after encountering several security bugs. This app was launched in early 2015 to help users control Intel single-board computers and Intel NUC. The company has asked Remote Keyboard Users to delete the app at their first convenience.[171]

Use of Intel products by Apple Inc. (2005–present)

On June 6, 2005, Steve Jobs, then CEO of Apple, announced that Apple would be transitioning the Macintosh from its long favored PowerPC architecture to the Intel x86 architecture because the future PowerPC road map was unable to satisfy Apple's needs.[172][173] This was seen as win for Intel,[174] although an analyst called the move "risky" and "foolish", as Intel's current offerings at the time were considered to be behind those of AMD and IBM.[175] The first Mac computers containing Intel CPUs were announced on January 10, 2006, and Apple had its entire line of consumer Macs running on Intel processors by early August 2006. The Apple Xserve server was updated to Intel Xeon processors from November 2006 and was offered in a configuration similar to Apple's Mac Pro.[176]

Despite Apple's use of Intel products, relations between the two companies were strained at times.[177] Rumors of Apple switching from Intel processors to their own designs began circulating as early as 2011.[178] On June 22, 2020, during Apple's annual WWDC, Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, announced that they would be switching their entire Mac line from Intel CPUs to their custom processors in two years. In the short term, this transition is estimated to have minimal effects on Intel, as Apple only accounts for 2% to 4% of their revenue. However, Apple's shift to their own chips might prompt other PC manufacturers to reevaluate their reliance on Intel and the x86 architecture.[179][180] By November 2020, Apple unveiled the Apple M1, their processor designed for the Mac.[181] The M1 was noted to be more powerful in single threaded performance and more efficient compared to Intel's current processors at the same price point.[182][183][184]

Attempts at entering the smartphone and wearables market

Intel planned to introduce Medfield – a processor for tablets and smartphones – to the market in 2012, as an effort to compete with ARM.[185] As a 32-nanometer processor, Medfield is designed to be energy-efficient, which is one of the core features in ARM's chips.[186]

At the Intel Developers Forum (IDF) 2011 in San Francisco, Intel's partnership with Google was announced. In January 2012, Google announced Android 2.3, supporting Intel's Atom microprocessor.[187][188][189]

In 2013, Intel's Kirk Skaugen said that Intel's exclusive focus on Microsoft platforms was a thing of the past and that they would now support all "tier-one operating systems" such as Linux, Android, iOS, and Chrome.[190]

In 2014, Intel cut thousands of employees in response to "evolving market trends",[191] and offered to subsidize manufacturers for the extra costs involved in using Intel chips in their tablets.[192]

Mobile Linux software

In 2007, Intel formed the Moblin project to create an open source Linux operating system for x86-based mobile devices. Following the success of Google's Android platform which ran exclusively on ARM processors, Intel announced on February 15, 2010, that it would partner with Nokia and merge Moblin with Nokia's ARM-based Maemo project to create MeeGo.[193] MeeGo was supported by the Linux Foundation.[194]

In February 2011, Nokia left the project after partnering with Microsoft, leaving Intel in sole charge of MeeGo. An Intel spokeswoman said it was "disappointed" by Nokia's decision but that Intel was committed to MeeGo.[195] In September 2011 Intel stopped working on MeeGo and partnered with Samsung to create Tizen, a new project hosted by the Linux Foundation.[196] Intel has since been co-developing the Tizen operating system which runs on several Samsung devices.

Wearable computing

On January 6, 2014, Intel announced that it was "teaming with the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Barneys New York and Opening Ceremony around the wearable tech field."[197] Intel developed a reference design for wearable smart earbuds that provide biometric and fitness information. The Intel smart earbuds provide full stereo audio, and monitor heart rate, while the applications on the user's phone keep track of run distance and calories burned.

CNBC reported that Intel eliminated the division that worked on health wearables in 2017.[198]

Solid-state drives (SSD)

An Intel X25-M SSD

In 2008, Intel began shipping mainstream solid-state drives (SSDs) with up to 160 GB storage capacities.[199] As with their CPUs, Intel develops SSD chips using ever-smaller nanometer processes. These SSDs make use of industry standards such as NAND flash,[200] mSATA,[201] PCIe, and NVMe. In 2017, Intel introduced SSDs based on 3D XPoint technology under the Optane brand name.[202]

In 2020, SK Hynix acquired Intel's NAND memory business.[203] In 2021, Intel discontinued consumer Optane.[204]

Supercomputers

The Intel Scientific Computers division was founded in 1984 by Justin Rattner, to design and produce parallel computers based on Intel microprocessors connected in hypercube internetwork topology.[205] In 1992, the name was changed to the Intel Supercomputing Systems Division, and development of the iWarp architecture was also subsumed.[206] The division designed several supercomputer systems, including the Intel iPSC/1, iPSC/2, iPSC/860, Paragon and ASCI Red. In November 2014, Intel revealed that it is going to use light beams to speed up supercomputers.[207]

Fog computing

On November 19, 2015, Intel, alongside ARM Holdings, Dell, Cisco Systems, Microsoft, and Princeton University, founded the OpenFog Consortium, to promote interests and development in fog computing.[208] Intel's Chief Strategist for the IoT Strategy and Technology Office, Jeff Faders, became the consortium's first president.[209]

Self-driving cars

Intel is one of the biggest stakeholders in the self-driving car industry, having joined the race in mid 2017[210] after joining forces with Mobileye.[211] The company is also one of the first in the sector to research consumer acceptance, after an AAA report quoted a 78% nonacceptance rate of the technology in the US.[212]

Safety levels of the technology, the thought of abandoning control to a machine, and psychological comfort of passengers in such situations were the major discussion topics initially. The commuters also stated that they did not want to see everything the car was doing. This was primarily a referral to the auto-steering wheel with no one sitting in the driving seat. Intel also learned that voice control regulator is vital, and the interface between the humans and machine eases the discomfort condition, and brings some sense of control back.[213] It is important to mention that Intel included only 10 people in this study, which makes the study less credible.[212] In a video posted on YouTube,[214] Intel accepted this fact and called for further testing.

Competition, antitrust and espionage

By the end of the 1990s, microprocessor performance had outstripped software demand for that CPU power. Aside from high-end server systems and software, whose demand dropped with the end of the "dot-com bubble", consumer systems ran effectively on increasingly low-cost systems after 2000. Intel's strategy of producing ever-more-powerful processors and obsoleting their predecessors stumbled, leaving an opportunity for rapid gains by competitors, notably AMD. This, in turn, lowered the profitability of the processor line and ended an era of unprecedented dominance of the PC hardware by Intel.

Intel's dominance in the x86 microprocessor market led to numerous charges of antitrust violations over the years, including FTC investigations in both the late 1980s and in 1999, and civil actions such as the 1997 suit by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) and a patent suit by Intergraph. Intel's market dominance (at one time it controlled over 85% of the market for 32-bit x86 microprocessors) combined with Intel's own hardball legal tactics (such as its infamous 338 patent suit versus PC manufacturers)[215] made it an attractive target for litigation, but few of the lawsuits ever amounted to anything.

A case of industrial espionage arose in 1995 that involved both Intel and AMD. Bill Gaede, an Argentine formerly employed both at AMD and at Intel's Arizona plant, was arrested for attempting in 1993 to sell the i486 and P5 Pentium designs to AMD and to certain foreign powers.[216] Gaede videotaped data from his computer screen at Intel and mailed it to AMD, which immediately alerted Intel and authorities, resulting in Gaede's arrest. Gaede was convicted and sentenced to 33 months in prison in June 1996.[217][218]

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