With Intel CEO Paul Otellini set to make his confirmed exit on May 2013, the question of who will assume the new leadership role—along with what type of future awaits Intel—have dominated conversations around the tech community. One interesting, long running speculation that resurfaced lately suggests Intel will consider acquiring NVIDIA, a semiconductor company best known for its graphics processor units (GPU). The rumored new leader for the two merged companies is believed at the moment to be none other than the NVIDIA CEO, Jen-Hsun Huang.
As those familiar with Intel’s history may be aware, there’d been discussions of a potential Intel-NVIDIA merger as early as back in 2006, the same year that AMD, one of the chipmaker’s main rivals, made the notable move to acquire ATI Technologies. While Intel was ultimately unable to come to the same type of agreement with NVIDIA, the former had reportedly been ambitious about the merger possibility, and had hopes of applying NVIDIA’s GeForce graphics cores in its future chips (an offer which, according to ubergizmo, had been rejected by Huang).
Acquisition Prospects and Benefits
With the tech industry being much different compared to back then, and with the stakes growing higher for Intel, the company no longer has the leverage to reminisce on missed opportunities. A future merger with NVIDIA will not necessarily guarantee immediate change, but it will certainly help the once dominant chip maker improve in areas like mobile processing, which is currently its Achilles heel. Unlike with Intel, NVIDA has shown respectable progress in mobile chip development, as can be seen in the Tegra 3 processor used in Google’s Nexus 7 and Microsoft’s Surface tablet. The other undeniable strength of NVIDIA, of course, is the company’s near insurmountable lead with its GPUs, which are currently known to power the world’s fastest supercomputer, Titan. Should Intel’s manufacturing prowess eventually be integrated with NVIDIA’s innovations and expertise, there’s little question as to the technological feat and breakthrough that the two will be capable of accomplishing in the future.
Huang, at one point hailed as the Entrepreneur of the Year in Technology by Ernest and Young LLP, is undeniably a sound CEO choice for Intel, although, as various news sources point out, there are potential issues to look out for. Intel and NVIDIA are essentially organizations with vastly different corporate cultures and expertise. For an “outsider” like Huang to manage Intel’s teams, immense staff, and new direction, challenges and obstacles are inevitable. Another issue, as mentioned by ubergizmo, is Huang’s alleged distaste for the type of chip architecture supported by Intel. Whether this will be a serious issue for Intel’s staff will be interesting to see.
Too early to tell?
Without the official statements and confirmations, all talk about future mergers and Huang should at best be treated as speculation. There is still a strong likelihood that Intel will play it safe and stick to someone from the inside. Or the company may just turn to a different outsider altogether. One other interesting “outsider” candidate whose name has popped up lately is Sanjay Jah, the former Motorola CEO and ex-Qualcomm COO.