Intel opens R&D kimono

Four billion bucks at lab's disposal

David Tennenhouse, director of research at Intel has given an intriguing glimpse into future projects simmering on the firm's back burners.

Intel Labs, a worldwidely spread division, also showed off a number of items it is currently working on.

Tennenhouse said that R&D spending rose on the same steep curve followed by Intel revenues, and would reach $4 billion in the year 2000.

Not all of its projects are related to revenue earners, however, with some of these monies being spent on pure research.

Opportunities currently being looked at include e-business, re-inventing the Internet architecture and network embedded computing – clearly related to current Intel strategy.

But others are much further down the line and include robotics and computer vision, pushing atoms and actually programming molecules and MEMs (nano-technology) and bio-chips.

The professor seemed to suggest that programming molecules was a viable solution, but that if the R&D paid off, this would not necessarily mean the end of lithography.

He showed a slide suggesting that next year we could see the beginning of .07 micron process technology, followed by .05 micron technology in 2003 and .035 micron technology in the year 2005. (By which time we will be over 55, and hence need an Intel dotage.station.)

The major R&D divisions within Intel Labs are the technology and research labs, the architecture labs, and the technology and manufacturing group, with Tennenhouse, Pat Gelsinger, Craig Kinnie and Sunlin Chou directing the whole shebang.

Ranged round the room as Tennenhouse spoke were computer vision technology demos, voice portal technology, a wireless digital pen, home networking using Universal Plug and Play, third generation e-business, retiree needs, 12-inch wafer, and e-manufacturing, a way of online manufacturing automation.

The Labs facilities are spread around the globe, and Tennenhouse quipped that sometimes he only found out new facilities had opened after the fact. ®