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Grove predicts 10-GHz chips

Intel CEO and President Andrew Grove is still paranoid but instead of seeking therapy, he plans to use his paranoia to fuel the next generation of computer and processor technology, according to his keynote speech at fall Comdex '96.

LAS VEGAS, Nevada--Intel (INTC) CEO and President Andrew Grove is still paranoid but instead of seeking therapy, he plans to use his paranoia to fuel the next generation of computer and processor technology, according to his keynote speech today at fall Comdex '96.

"My paranoia is that some day the [PC] cycle may sputter and applications may get boring. This is a battle for the eyeballs of the consumer," Grove said in a speech in keeping with his book, Only the Paranoid Survive.

In the hopes of keeping things interesting and keeping the relentless PC cycle cycling, Grove today made some major predictions about where computer technology is going in the next 15 years.

By 2011, he projected, there will be a 200-fold increase in processing power on Intel processors, chips that will by then integrate 1 billion transistors and run at dizzying speeds of 10 GHz and 100,000 mips (millions of instructions per second). This compares with today's 4-million transistor processors running at 200 MHz and approximately 200 mips.

To keep this promise, Grove pointed out that Intel's challenge is more one of economics than technology. "In the future, "[chip] plants are going to cost $10 billion to build, compared to today's $2.5 billion. Intel has to help lead development of technology to find the compelling PC technologies which would keep these humongous plants humming along building millions and millions of chips."

But Intel will need the leap in processing power to deliver a new kind of visual computing that it's counting on to "keep things interesting." This new kind of computing will provide a 3D "lifelike" interactive experience on both the networked and the standalone PC of the future, but will require a huge amount of processing power to manipulate the necessary video, graphics, and sound.

Grove said that Intel has finally achieved TV-quality video on PCs, but to achieve this lifelike 3D interaction, the personal computer of the future must go beyond just "matching" TV.

"Users demand lifelike interactive 3D experience. Visual computing will become part of PCs just like video has become part of today's PCs," he added. "We'll see a transition from connected PCs to visual computing by the end of century."

Photos by Don Winslow