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Intel Corporation Executive Tries to Fix "Competitive Gaps"

By Ashraf Eassa - Apr 19, 2016 at 10:35AM

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It's about time.

Image credit: Intel. 

Regular readers of my columns here in The Motley Fool are probably aware that I have not been all that positive on Intel's (INTC 0.84%) execution in a number of critically important areas. The company's chip manufacturing technology lead appears to be slipping, and the chip giant seems to have serious issues with launching competitive products on time in certain market segments.

It would appear that Intel's recent high-profile hire from Qualcomm (QCOM 0.40%) -- Dr. Venkata "Murthy" Renduchintala -- sees these issues and is looking to plug what he refers to as "competitive gaps," according to a leaked memo described by The Oregonian. Let's take a closer look.

What's the problem, Dr. Renduchintala?
According to The Oregonian, Renduchintala says that he has conducted "numerous project reviews with [Intel's] execution teams" and that those reviews have revealed something troubling.

"There is a clear trend that has emerged in these reviews," Renduchintala reportedly wrote. "A lack of product/customer focus in execution that is creating schedule and competitiveness gaps in [Intel's] products."

The focus areas and the solution
The report goes on to say that, in a bid to address these issues, Renduchintala is creating "three-person teams of leaders from across Intel's business functions." These teams of leaders will "come together for the duration of product development, then team members will return to their original roles."

Renduchintala made it clear that, over the long-term, this development/management model will be how Intel develops new products in the future.

At any rate, according to the report, the following six products will be the initial targets for this new product development paradigm:

  1. Kaby Lake ­-- Intel's third generation 14-nanometer processor family for client systems.
  2. Cannonlake -- Intel's first generation 10-nanometer processor family
  3. Ice Lake -- Intel's second generation 10-nanometer processor family
  4. XMM 7560 -- The follow-on cellular modem to the recently announced XMM 7480
  5. Glenview
  6. Coffee Lake

The "Glenview" and "Coffee Lake" code-names are new and The Oregonian did not provide any information on these products. That said, the tablet processors based on Intel's Atom architecture tend to be names with the suffix "view."

For example, Intel's 22-nanometer tablet system-on-chip was named Valley View, the first 14-nanometer tablet processor was named Cherryview, and the second 14-nanometer tablet processor was called Willow View.

Glenview is probably the first 10-nanometer Atom-based tablet processor.

Coffee Lake could either be the name of the PC-oriented variant of Glenview (Intel has shifted to naming both its Atom and Core-based PC products after lakes), or a future Core based product (though I doubt it).

It's going to be a rough transition for the chipmaker
It's becoming increasingly clear that Intel has some very serious organizational/structural issues that it needs to work out. In addition to fighting a struggling PC market, the company has to try to fix what appear to be significant execution issues as well.

Such "fixes" do not happen overnight, and I expect that it will probably be something on the order of years before Intel's product development process is truly straightened out. However, if Intel can successfully fix its product development methodology, then Intel should not only be better prepared to maintain its dominant position in the PC market, but could more easily go after new opportunities. 

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