On February 18th President Obama toured Intel’s Oregon R&D and Manufacturing plant and sat down with several big wigs for dinner to discuss America’s future in technology.  Intel CEO Paul Otellini pledged to invest 5 billion in a new semiconductor plant in Arizona, a plan that will hopefully create over 4,000 new jobs.  It seems like a no-brainer, Arizona is in desperate need of jobs, and Intel is in desperate need of innovation.  According to their press release, Intel has donated over a billion dollars for education in Oregon in the hopes of finding talent in what has since transformed from a center of agriculture to a major manufacturing power. Its worth noting that the company employs 15,000 people, the most for any private company in Oregon.  Hobnobbing with the president and making promises is one thing but fundamental company dogma is something else altogether.

Intel has released some of the most powerful and power hungry processors available, yet has also released some fairly weak and inefficient ones as well.  The growing mobile market is being seized up by ARM holdings.  Luckily for Intel, the ARM brand is decentralized and has less revenue for R&D, at least as of right now.  AMD is in the same boat as Intel at the moment, their acquisition of ATI certainly helping to keep the company competitive on the market.  The PC architecture is certainly different from the ARM powering smart phones and other embedded devices yet there is much to learn from the efficiency in ARM chips.  Donating money to education is certainly a great way to improve company image yet hosting the president goes a long way to remind us of how huge Intel really is. Intel should really take heed to the old – if not directly comparable – adage; its not the size, its how you use it.

ARM is on the brink of releasing quad core processors that run on a very small amount of energy. AMD, while not breaking any ground in the micro processor department,has been running a very successful graphics card business the past few years. What of intel then?  Are we to expect needing nuclear energy to power our new Nucli-Core i1000 processors 10-15 years down the road? The president has been strong (in speech at least!) on weening America off of oil dependence and switching to alternative energy sources, why then do we not hear anything about reducing energy consumption in our consumer space?  Intel, along with AMD, still have scores of hurdles to overcome before they can be truly considered green and innovative companies.  Perhaps Intel will finally put the sharks with laser beams development on the back burner and put its planned facility to good use.

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