Andy Grove, president and chief executive officer of Intel Corp, wrote about the RISC versus CISC decisions he faced in 1990 and 1991, the time when Digital Equipment Corp’s Bob Palmer offered to license the Alpha chip to him, in his book Only the Paranoid Survive. Looking back at those debates six years after the fact, I shake my head about how I could have even considered walking away from our traditional technology that had then, and still has, phenomenal headroom and momentum, he wrote. Today, in fact, the advantages of RISC technology over CISC are much smaller than they appeared then. Yet at that time we were seriously considering a major shift in resources. DEC’s Palmer, of course, would have it otherwise, and claims a 50% to 300% performance advantage, and would be even further ahead if they hadn’t used our technology.
Meantime, Palmer didn’t discuss his impending lawsuit with Grove before today, and, being three hours ahead on the East Coast, didn’t want to wake him up with a telephone call. Instead he surprised him with an early morning email. Some flame!