In this 3-part blog series, discover how Intel employees across design, manufacturing, and sales groups were involved in bringing to life a transformative technological advancement.
Launched early this September, Intel’s 11th Gen Intel® Core™ processor (formerly codenamed Tiger Lake) has taken the PC processor world by storm, heralding a new era of laptop performance. Optimizing power efficiency and running at significantly higher frequencies than its predecessors, it’s a technological leap so big that this is the largest performance gain yet within a process technology in the company’s history.
The product journey began three and half years ago and is the culmination of brilliance, perseverance, and teamwork that transcended global borders and time zones. It’s a product that Intel Malaysia is proud of, especially given its footprint and the number of key leadership roles Intel Malaysia it had in its development.
Below, get to know two of the people behind the design aspects of this exciting new technology and learn about their experiences helping push possible forward.
AK Ko, Design Engineering Director – CPU Development
“This was the result of hardcore engineering. From architecture design to platform, every piece was enhanced. We left no stone unturned. Because at the end of the day, the silicon does not lie.”
For AK Ko, the 11th Gen Intel Core processor represents more than just another product among others. Intel CPUs are highly complex and state-of-the-art pieces of hardware, and his role is largely rooted in having a deep knowledge of the past, a strong sense of the present, and a keen anticipation of future needs.
One third of the processor’s design is attributed to the Malaysian team. On whole, it was designed by a team of about 800 people. Factoring in supporting groups, this was a project that involved thousands, across continents. Regardless of specific team, they work toward the same goal with an understanding of broader implications. “We focus on making the best. And because quality is at the center of everything we do, it’s so important to be honest with ourselves in terms of value, cost, schedules, and the competition.”
AK’s journey at Intel began over 28 years ago, at a time when the Penang Design Center was working on micro controllers. A pioneer member of the team, his journey has seen him working on the first ever USB client chip, the Pentium® 4 processor, the acclaimed Intel® microarchitecture formerly codenamed Nehalem, and the fanless MacBook Air ultrabook—rich experiences that served as good references in his approach to the 11th Gen Intel Core processor.
“I believe that the world will move on with or without us. And it’s ours to lose if we don’t participate. Not many others are doing things as challenging and complicated as Intel is—we’re one of the most advanced in terms of silicon design. And for such a small country to have such a world-class team is something to be proud of.”
Yet Foon Lai, Design Engineering Director – Chipset Development
“This product actually brought the team closer together. We had to brainstorm, to look at creative ways to do the validation and respond to customer needs faster.”
For Yet Foon, contributing to the 11th Gen Intel Core processor was about pushing the envelope and defying odds. It was the most complex design so far that her team had to develop. Delivering low power usage to customers has always been a key objective—and also one of the biggest challenges on top of other user experiences.
How did they overcome these challenges? “A lot of it tied back to teamwork and coming up with innovative solution. Initially there were things that we thought could not be done, and yet we pulled through. Instead of pushing back, we put on our thinking hats to find possibilities the smart way.”
Having to adapt to a new working model, Yet Foon was faced with a host of technical challenges—and the worry of not doing enough. But she was not alone. Leveraging the technical expertise of others in the team and working closely with their longtime counterparts in California, it was a matter of huddling up, having open conversations, being clear about roles, and turning the worry into a collective push to do better.
“This journey was a long one—and those who worked on it had to do so for years before it came to fruition. But the linkage within Intel Malaysia where we have design, manufacturing, and sales provides comprehensive visibility, which helps us better understand how the products we build are used by the consumers,” says Yet Foon.
This helps the team connect what they do with the company’s overarching goals. “It’s like seeing all the action right in front of your eye.” Which, Yet Foon says, is especially incredible when you’re working on such an important product. “It’s definitely one to be proud of.”
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