At Intel,an Indian inside

Exec behind Intel's latest processor,to be launched tomorrow,is an Indian called Rani Borkar.

Written by Sudhir Chowdhary | Published: June 3, 2013 7:49:59 pm

The Intel executive behind the American chip maker’s most important product of the year—the 4th Generation Intel Core processor code-named Haswell,to be launched tomorrow—is an Indian called Rani Borkar. This Mumbai-educated Intel veteran of 25 years is a key figure at Intel Architecture Development Group,the division that is responsible for designing chips,and has a lot riding on her shoulders. She leads numerous worldwide engineering teams that are working overtime to incorporate new functions into the silicon and speed up the company’s push into mobile markets

Rani Borkar: I am always looking for the next challenge

Meet the woman behind Intel’s leading architectures—Rani Borkar. As the corporate vice-president and general manager of the Intel Architecture Development Group,Rani leads the Santa Clara,California-based tech major’s numerous worldwide engineering teams that are responsible for the development of the full range of processors,from Intel Itanium,Xeon,Core,Atom and system-on-a-chip (SoC) products for server,client,and hand-held devices. This Intel veteran of 25 years has held several technical and senior management positions in microprocessor design and development,notably the development and delivery of multiple generations of the Intel Pentium 4 processors and the first generation of Intel Core processors and their proliferations.

Nowadays,she has been tasked with a bigger challenge: leading Intel’s efforts to design a new crop of microprocessors that can be used by the makers of mobile phones and tablets. It is pertinent to have a broader perspective here in order to understand the chip maker’s intensified focus on the fast-growing smartphone and tablet market. Intel for decades has called the shots in the computer industry,but was slow to react to the explosion of mobile phones and tablets. As a result,it lags its rivals in the hard-to-resist $85-billion mobile-chip market that is now dominated by Qualcomm and Samsung Electronics,which design their chips using architecture licensed from ARM Holdings.

“Yes,we missed it,we were slow to tablets and some of the mobile computing,” Intel’s new CEO Brian Krzanich told shareholders at an annual meeting last month. The CEO has now taken direct control of the Intel Architecture Development Group that is responsible for designing chips and is making all

efforts to speed up the company’s push into mobile markets. While Intel will accelerate a push to get its chips used

by makers of smartphones and tablets,the pressure is now on Rani and her chip design team to rise to the occasion.

“People who know me well also know that I am always looking for the next challenge,the next mountain to climb. So in addition to developing PCs and server products,since the last few years I have also taken on a new charter to develop SoCs for the tablets and phones,” said Rani,who received her master’s degree in physics from the University of Mumbai in 1982 and earned her master’s degree in electrical engineering from the Oregon Graduate Institute in 1989. “I am cherishing this new opportunity to develop breakthrough products in these segments and do what Intel does best—Innovate and Lead.”

Rani is in-charge of Haswell plus SoC development (the latest SoC launched was called Silvermont which is an Atom SoC mainly targeted at tablets). For the uninitiated,these integrated system-on-chip designs incorporate core functions into the silicon for PCs,tablets and servers as well hand-held devices where Intel is considered lagging.

Basically,it is an integrated circuit that integrates all components of a computer or other electronic system into a single chip. Intel’s success in SoCs will have much to do with its overall success the next several years.

What is Haswell?

Haswell is the code-name used by Intel when referring to its forthcoming chipset. It is the successor to the Ivy Bridge architecture. Intel chipsets alternate between a “tick-tock”

release cycle. A “tick” represents the shrinking of the process used to build chips whereas a “tock” is the building of a new micro-architecture. Haswell is classified as a “tock” in this cycle. Upon release,the chips will officially be known as the 4th Generation Intel Core processors.

Intel’s most important product of 2013,the 4th Generation Intel Core processor will be released tomorrow at the annual Computex Taipei computer trade show. It has been specifically designed to enable a wide array of sleek designs like touch-enabled ultrabook convertibles,all-in-one PCs and tablets. It will deliver powerful performance with vibrant graphics,amazing battery life,responsiveness and leading edge security. This product offers the biggest jump in battery life in Intel’s history.

Why is this important?

We are now at a point where we are seeing the rebirth of the PC,with more innovations than in the past 15 years.

We are seeing exciting new form factors emerging,including exciting 2-in-1 devices that combine the power,performance and graphics of a laptop with the flexibility,portability,ease

of use and battery life of a tablet. It’s the power efficiency combined

with the overall and graphics performance of Haswell that will

enable this new category of 2-in-1 devices that will reinvigorate the PC market,feels Rani. “The importance of Haswell is that it enables new innovations for the PC industry.”

At the beginning of 2012,Intel had no market share in phones. It didn’t even have a microprocessor for a tablet device. Today,there are Intel-powered phones shipping in more than 20 countries. It even has the Clover Trail (the code-name for the dual-core Intel 32nm Atom system-on-a-chip).

The lady from Mumbai is definitely making progress and building momentum!

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