Intel Architecture Labs

Intel Architecture Labs

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Intel Architecture Labs, also known as IAL, was the personal computer
Personal computer
A personal computer is any general-purpose computer whose size, capabilities, and original sales price make it useful for individuals, and which is intended to be operated directly by an end-user with no intervening computer operator...

 system research and development arm of Intel Corporation during the 1990s. IAL was created by Intel Vice-President Ron Whittier together with Craig Kinnie and Steven McGeady
Steven McGeady
Steven McGeady is a former Intel executive best known as a witness in the Microsoft antitrust trial. His notes contained colorful quotes by Microsoft executives threatening to "cut off Netscape's air supply" and Bill Gates' guess that "this anti-trust thing will blow over"...

 to develop the hardware and software innovations considered to be lacking from PC OEM
Original Equipment Manufacturer
An original equipment manufacturer, or OEM, manufactures products or components that are purchased by a company and retailed under that purchasing company's brand name. OEM refers to the company that originally manufactured the product. When referring to automotive parts, OEM designates a...

s and Microsoft
Microsoft Corporation is an American public multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing through its various product divisions...

 in the late 1980s and 1990s.

IAL pursued both hardware and software initiatives, but the latter became de-emphasized after the efforts collided with similar activities by Microsoft. For example, Native Signal Processing (NSP) was a software initiative to allow Intel-based PCs to run time-sensitive code independently of the operating system
Operating system
An operating system is a set of programs that manage computer hardware resources and provide common services for application software. The operating system is the most important type of system software in a computer system...

, allowing real-time audio and video processing on the microprocessors of the mid-1990s. Microsoft refused to support NSP in its operating systems and convinced PC makers that the NSP drivers would render their systems unsupported, and Intel pulled back from promoting the software, leaving NSP as an orphan. IAL also tangled with Microsoft by supporting Netscape and their early browser
Netscape Navigator
Netscape Navigator was a proprietary web browser that was popular in the 1990s. It was the flagship product of the Netscape Communications Corporation and the dominant web browser in terms of usage share, although by 2002 its usage had almost disappeared...

, and by producing a fast native x86 port of the Java
Java Virtual Machine
A Java virtual machine is a virtual machine capable of executing Java bytecode. It is the code execution component of the Java software platform. Sun Microsystems stated that there are over 4.5 billion JVM-enabled devices.-Overview:...

 system. Most of these projects were later shelved, and after 1997 IAL tended not to risk competing with Microsoft. The details of IAL's conflicts with Microsoft over software were revealed in Steven McGeady's testimony in the Microsoft anti-trust
United States v. Microsoft
United States v. Microsoft was a set of civil actions filed against Microsoft Corporation pursuant to the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 Section 1 and 2 on May 8, 1998 by the United States Department of Justice and 20 U.S. states. Joel I. Klein was the lead prosecutor...


Not all of IAL's software efforts met bad ends due to Microsoft -- IAL developed one of the first software digital video systems, Indeo
Indeo Video is a video codec developed by Intel in 1992. It was sold to Ligos Corporation in 2000. While its original version was related to Intel's DVI video stream format, a hardware-only codec for the compression of television-quality video onto compact disks, Indeo was distinguished by being...

(tm), technology that was used in its ProShare videoconferencing product line but suffered late from neglect and was sold to another company in the late 1990s.

However, IAL successes in the hardware world are legendary, and include PCI
Peripheral Component Interconnect
Conventional PCI is a computer bus for attaching hardware devices in a computer...

Accelerated Graphics Port
The Accelerated Graphics Port is a high-speed point-to-point channel for attaching a video card to a computer's motherboard, primarily to assist in the acceleration of 3D computer graphics. Since 2004 AGP has been progressively phased out in favor of PCI Express...

, the Northbridge/Southbridge core logic architecture and PCI Express
PCI Express
PCI Express , officially abbreviated as PCIe, is a computer expansion card standard designed to replace the older PCI, PCI-X, and AGP bus standards...

 (the now-dominant architecture for multi-processor servers).

In 2001, after the departure of all of its creators, IAL was disbanded and replaced with the very different Intel Labs under Pat Gelsinger
Pat Gelsinger
Patrick P. Gelsinger is the President and Chief Operating Officer, EMC Information Infrastructure Products at EMC Corporation. Before joining EMC, he was the first Chief Technology Officer of Intel Corporation and Senior Vice-president and General Manager of the Digital Enterprise Group at...

, though most of the creative talent that had been in IAL was by then scattered across the company or had left entirely. In a 2005 re-organization, Intel Labs itself was reorganized with the intent of rebuilding a research function.