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May I Introduce, Intel

Intel is making a splash, again, at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Before I get to Intel’s news at the 2011 International CES, which opened its doors today, I wonder how well we all know Intel, its roots, and its relevance to the mil/aero market.

Intel Corporation was founded in 1968 by Gordon E. Moore (the man behind Moore’s Law) and Robert Noyce (co-inventor of the integrated circuit) in Santa Clara, Calif., when they both left Fairchild Semiconductor. The original name for the company was going to be Moore Noyce, a homophone for More Noise, but they reconsidered the name given that noise in electronics is typically a bad thing. The company went under the name NM for roughly one year, after which they changed the name to Intel (after buying the rights to the name from a hotel chain).

A common misconception about Intel’s name is that it comes from the word “intelligence”; the name is actually derived from Integrated Electronics. By the end of the 1990s, Intel had become one of the largest and most successful businesses in the world. The company achieved this feat creating semiconductors, including memory, graphics processors, and most notably the x86 and IA-64 microprocessors and related architectures. The latest and most popular Intel architecture is the multi-core processor simply named “Core” (previously known as Next-Generation Micro-Architecture, or NGMA).

Intel has been a major player in military and aerospace (mil/aero) electronics for many years. Reaching back to the 1970s, Intel has provided the mil/aero market with advanced computing technology.

In 1995, Ron Williams, general manager, Military Operation, at Intel, said: “The DX4 486 is clearly a performance upgrade from our DX and DX2 offerings. Introduced commercially in 1994, the DX4 features clock-tripling technology, which allows it to operate at up to a 100MHZ internal frequency, making it suitable for applications such as ground stations, radar and electro-optical, electronic warfare, and target acquisition systems.”

It may sound silly today to herald a 100MHz (megahertz) processor, now that we use smartphones running processors at the 1GHz mark or higher; but, at the time, it was revolutionary technology. Intel has a long history of providing the military and aerospace community with innovations that have kept our forces on the bleeding edge for decades.

I hope you enjoy these photos of early military chips from Intel (my thanks to as much as this geek does.

Intel M8008 with Traces (Date code 7502) 8-bit, military microprocessor

Intel M8008 with Traces (Date code 7502) 8-bit, military microprocessor

Intel 1449 memory chip. It is originally a C2102, restamped for military use

Intel 1449 memory chip. It is originally a C2102, restamped for military use

100MHz Intel 486 DX4 made for the military

100MHz Intel 486 DX4 made for the military

If this geek likes one thing more than new technology, it is reminiscing about technology of years past. Stay tuned — there is more to come, including the latest processors coming from our friends at Intel. We’ll look at how the innovations will affect mil/aero trends, needs, and requirements, such as size, weight, and power (SWaP), video compression on the battlefield, and HD video streaming.

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