The world's fastest growing manufacturer of semiconductors wants to go even faster. Nick Hasell examines the cost of staying ahead.
Andrew S Grove, president and CEO of Intel Corporation, lays three small, metallic squares on the desk in front of him. For those who like their corporate histories concise, the squares offer a neat three-step guide to Intel's recent fortunes. The first and smallest, Grove explains, is the 386 microprocessor, Intel's cash cow. Since its introduction in 1985, the 386 has proved the highest selling chip in the history of semiconductors. Next, in the middle, is its younger, more powerful relative, the 486, Intel's state-of-the-art offering and current revenue-earner. Lastly, Grove comes to the largest square, a microprocessor simply code-named P5. With the ability to process 100 million instructions per second - five times the speed of the 486 and 20 that of the 386 - its revolutionary performance is tipped to change the course of personal computing. All the signs are that, when launched in the first quarter of next year, it will duplicate the success of its predecessors and take Intel effortlessly and lucratively into the silicon future.