INSIDE INTEL: Our Tour Of The Company That Put The Silicon In Silicon Valley


Photo: Boonsri Dickinson, Business Insider

This week, we visited Intel’s headquarters in Santa Clara, California to find out where the tech company is placing its bets these days and which startups it’s interested in funding.When you think of Intel, you probably think of the silicon chips resting inside your PC.

But the company is also doing a lot to show how companies can use its chips in new ways.

For instance, it’s pushing a super-thin type of notebook computer called an Ultrabook, and has introduced its smartphone reference design — so that soon, its chips may power the little computers in our pockets. It’s also been supplying chips for data centres for Internet giants like Google and Facebook.

We wanted to see what the culture was like here, so we waited here in the lobby.

The thing about Intel employees is that if you like it there, you stay for decades.

The story of Intel started with these chips, which are often inside our beloved gadgets.

These chips are in everything from your laptop to the servers that store your photos on Facebook.

Here's an iconic photo of the men behind Intel: Andrew Grove, Robert Noyce, and Gordon Moore.

This timeline of Moore's life is pretty new. Moore doesn't come in that often anymore -- he's 83 years old -- but he was in last week and was apparently pretty embarrassed when he saw this.

See, it's that same round table.

Before we found out more about Intel's vision, we took a stroll through the museum to understand how the company became a household name.

These are some of the elements that go into making Intel's chips.

Most computers stored information using magnetic core memory. The chips were made by hand. But Intel introduced the 1103 DRAM in 1970, and in just two years it became the largest selling semiconductor memory. The Intel 4004 microprocessor also helped change the way electronic devices were made.

These wafers, which are used to make silicon circuits, keep getting bigger over the years.

President Obama stopped by recently and signed a wafer. Look.

I tried on the gear used in the fabrication plant. It reminded me of chemical engineering class.

Intel is trying to get into smartphones. Sumeet Syal holds up the Intel Smartphone Reference design announced at CES in January. No customers yet, though.

It has an advanced imaging system. It can take photos in burst mode, so you can get 10 photos in less than a second. Also, you can take video in high definition and stream it from the phone to your TV.

In the lab, they compare its multimedia capabilities and its video game performance against other phones, most of which run processors using designs from Intel rival ARM. Intel is in talks with the carriers to sell this reference phone directly.

Anand Lakshmanan told us about Intel's Ultrabook campaign. Expect the first Ultrabooks at a mainstream price point this year, although he wouldn't really name the price because he didn't want to be wrong. Fine. He did tell us that there are between 15 and 20 designs. At the end of the year, there will be about 75.

Like the MacBook Air, an Ultrabook is very slim compared to a regular laptop.

To be considered an Ultrabook, a laptop must be less than 18 millimeters thick, and have at least 5 hours of battery life. Intel has a $300 million fund to help drive costs down.

Ultrabooks have anti-theft and identity protection built in, so they can be disabled if they're stolen. This technology comes from Intel's acquisition of McAfee in 2010.

This is Dan Snyder, who gave us our tour. He came here as an intern in the early 90s -- not uncommon for an Intel employee.

This is where Intel tests its chips and its performance power. This is before Consumer Reports and CNET reviewers get their hands on products.

Jeff Reilly runs this lab.

These employees do most of the actual work.

This is what a test result looks like. We're not sure what the colours mean.

An automatic version of Photoshop is running on this computer.

In the lab, chips are out in the open.

Now, it's time for lunch. This is the typical lunchtime crowd.

The food was not as good as Google's food, and employees have to pay for it. And the cafeteria gets really packed. We had to hunt for an open table.

These are so tall! These are the old cubes. Well, it's good for nap time I suppose.

Brian Gonzalez seemed extremely excited about his job. He runs a program to provide cheap subsidized laptops to schools. He gets to travel around the world. He's showing off his passport here.

The laptops are so durable. He says he's giving kids a new way to discover things and creating a service economy. He talked a lot about the program set up in Portugal.

Check out what it's like to pitch on Silicon Valley.

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