Time to Move to Mobile Computing: Pat Gelsinger

by CXOtoday Staff    Jul 27, 2009

According to the results of a new study conducted by Intel and Wipro Research in India, firms can gain an additional Rs 1 lakh through increased productivity by refreshing their old desktop PCs with laptops. In addition, firms can realise total power savings of Rs 5,442 per year by switching from old desktops to laptops.

Patrick Gelsinger, the inventor of the X86 or 80386 chip, has a dozen plus chip patents to his name and is the first CTO of Intel. In an interview with Govindraj Ethiraj, editor-in-chief, UTVi, Gelsinger talks about the productivity benefits of mobile computing and several other trends. Excerpts from the interview;

Is it right to compare computing capability of laptops and new desktops?
Well, what we found is that corporations around the world are moving to notepads and one aspect of notepads is that they save power by doing it… the stronger factor is that productivity and mobile workers are estimated to get six more hours of productive work. That might be while they are commuting and they might be able to take their data and applications along to meetings. But, overall, they are able to get substantial work done and more efficiently done on a notepad than on a desktop. There s a pretty strong factor to get more from a work force than in its investment, and a notepad is a good deal.

Can you tell us about similar analysis in other parts of the world?
Well, overall, we have done similar analysis at different places in the world. Some of those Intel have done, some of those have been done by other analysts and the results were similar in other parts of the world. Sometimes, the numbers are different and there are different benefits… With respect to use of mobile PCs in emerging markets such as India, there isn t much use. So, some of those factors are different. But overall, the results are familiar but this particular survey that was done by Wipro through us was very exciting because some times people said that the data we showed from other places in the world was not applicable to India. So, here was an India survey of over 50 different companies resulting in some pretty powerful data. This survey was done across 50 different companies that represent different sectors. So, overall, we say that these results are pretty broadly applicable.

Is it likely that some sectors or industries will benefit more?
Clearly, we could dissect that further to different sectors and some businesses may have more interests than others. But, overall, we think its pretty broadly applicable across many sectors of the Indian economy. These results show there are great benefits in the use of the refresher PCs and a very powerful result to move to mobile PCs .

To what extent is WI-Fi and connectivity important in ensuring the same productivity in India and other countries?
Well, the overall connectivity to the network, that s Internet, is an important driver of PC use on a global basis. Obviously, company by company, industry by industry, that will vary, but overall that s a critical capability. Wi-Fi is well penetrated in most corporate settings. Even now, in public settings that varies widely across various places in the globe. Wi-Fi is clearly an important technology to enable Internet access for workers throughout the enterprise and throughout the places they travel.

How do you see the overall growth prospects in hardware in India?
We are really encouraged … really, from several aspects, we continue to see that PC penetration is increasing, we re seeing increasing access to Internet and continued growth in broadband access. We re probably most encouraged by the very  strong  response from the new government and their enthusiasm in the infrastructure and building new technologies.

8806 celebrated 30 years last year…So, what s the vision looking forward?
Well, I could go on for hours on the 8806 and all these things that it resulted in. May be just one brief aspect to it… when I was working on the 386 and the 486, I wanted to change it, you know. There are some things this designer has ….this boy, and that s sort of quirky. I d really like to fix it but our marketing team really emphasized to me as a designer and said it s all about compatibility. It s a software investment and the ability to scale that investment forward and guarantee all software runs on hardware, and that simple summary is just compatible. That s what made the SX80 so powerful as an architecture in time. I liked to joke and I d still like to take it. You know you re the world s largest super computer built on the SX80 … we re going to take this compatible architecture, we re going to build the world s biggest machines, we re going to take it down to some of the the world s smallest and mobile machines, and the result is that you get scalability of investments and applications across the entire spectrum of computing. We re going to put SX80 on everything that can access and everything that computes.

Having architected the most powerful chips, how do you do something like this at this time?
The wonderful thing about the IT industry is that it changes so powerfully, going forward and the benefits of Moore s law continue to be the case today .,We re still doubling the number of  transistors and Wi-Fi. If Intel doesn t continue to innovate, someone will innovate and displace it this is the passion that makes the industry tick there s such a rapid underlying pace of technology change and that s the reason the heartbeat of the industry is still alive today. Just think about it. In the last 10 years, what was a Google and today you Google everything… Here we d say what s a Twitter and just three years ago it wasn t even on the market. We continue to see this enormous change in impact on society, on technology, and a new graduate coming out of IIT today could be the company that s coming up with the Twitter, or the Google tomorrow. That s the excitement of the IT industry.

You seem to highlight software and not hardware?
Well, what was the excitement of Google, and when you think about Google, it was the use of our hardware to scale together a new type of cloud computing infrastructure… Yes, there s a lot of software that goes into it, but the hardware investments in the innovations that have occurred really go hand in hand. So, every piece of software requires hardware and every piece of hardware needs some compelling software applications to go with it. I am mostly a hardware guy and may be I misspoke talking about some software breakthroughs. But I am excited about both and generally our hardware is the fuel that enables the creativity of the software guys.

Your book Balancing A family, Faith and Work…
I lay out clearly in the book that most of us tend to think about our daily activities as work, family and faith… and we really need to choose a line to our daily life and priorities and our work always gets favor over family. Also, one of the things I talk in the book is about the mission statement. What do you want to do with the most important thing that resets your time and getting to liberate really in your career… how you want to accomplish your career with your family, and your personal life, and writing it down about how you make daily trade-offs to accomplish those life-long tradeoffs that you may have…  and the final one is mentors. One of the things that have helped me really is that Andy Grove chose me to be mentored by him, and Andy Grove is one of the icons of the industry. He was really able to push me and fix me and challenge me in many ways… I would encourage anyone in their career to have mentors, people who just want to make them better and we could talk about it for many, many hours. These are a few of the key nuggets that come out of the book.