Thursday, October 31, 2013

Only Paranoid survive

In Only the Paranoid survive, Intel's former CEO Andy Grove recounts the dilemma of launching two largely incompatible CPUs at the same time:
We now had two very powerful chips that we were introducing at just about the same time: the 486, largely based on CISC technology and compatible with all the PC software, and the i860, based on RISC technology, which was very fast but compatible with nothing. We didn't know what to do. So we introduced both, figuring we'd let the marketplace decide. However, things were not that simple. Supporting a microprocessor architecture with all the necessary computer-related products – software, sales, and technical support – takes enormous resources. Even a company like Intel had to strain to do an adequate job with just one architecture. And now we had two different and competing efforts, each demanding more and more internal resources. Development projects have a tendency to want to grow like the proverbial mustard seed. The fight for resources and for marketing attention (for example, when meeting with the customer, which processor should we highlight) led to internal debates that were fierce enough to tear apart our microprocessor organization. Meanwhile, our equivocation caused our customers to wonder what Intel really stood for, the 486 or i860?


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