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April 10th, 2008
Interview Exclusive Strolling towards Intel's headquarters, I hoped my meeting with Paul Otellini would not be as awkward as the last encounter with an acting Intel CEO.
Jumping past Intel's near-term agenda and well into the future, I wondered how the company might apply its nanotechnology expertise to areas outside of the traditional semiconductor field. Companies such as Applied Materials have re-tooled semiconductor manufacturing equipment to pump out silicon-based solar cells, and a number of start-ups have issued specialized processors that can crank through tasks such as protein folding at remarkable speeds. Perhaps Intel would like to have a go at something along these lines.
"We have looked at both of those markets," Otellini said.
"There is no commonality between our factories and the factories that you would need to run to build solar cells. The equipment is different, the factory flow is different, the clean-room levels are much less necessary. And, for solar factories, you need these big, long almost football field kinds of buildings with a linear process control. So, there is not a lot of re-use of, say, our old factories or old equipment.
"So, you would have to enter it as a standalone business, and that doesn't seem to be attractive to us right now in terms of where our capital can be used.
"It's a similar story on stuff like the Affymetrics products. As we investigated the various aspects around digital health, we looked at those kinds of things. We're really good at digital logic, and I think that is where we want to keep our focus."
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