Using innovation to create competitive advantage
An Intel case study

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Page 3: Research and development

Research and development help to:

  • create new and better products
  • improve the methods for making the products
  • develop new market opportunities to sustain or accelerate growth.


Research involves designing new ideas to solve a problem or to create an opportunity. An example is the development of a new microprocessor for a mobile phone to give it access to the Internet.

Intel conducts research in two key areas:

  • research into manufacturing capabilities and material. This type of research led to the introduction of the 45nm high-k metal gate silicon manufacturing technology
  • more broad research focused on what technology can offer. This can cover how to integrate multiple different types of wireless technology into a single device or how to use silicon technologies to act as sensors. The research reaches into areas such as robotics.

Intel invests large sums in its research laboratories all over the world.

Intel's leadership in silicon technology, combined with the R&D capability to develop new products and new ways of making products, makes it one of the leaders in its field.

The result of this research is the creation of products customers want, which can be manufactured easily in large volumes. Examples include notebook computers containing Intel Centrino Processor Technology.


Research generates many ideas but only the best will be chosen for development.

Development involves converting good ideas into a commercial product, for example, by improving a microprocessor to run multiple computer programs at the same time. The development of the selected products must meet specific timetables for launch worldwide.

The end products resulting from an intensive R&D programme benefit the customer. These might include a smaller and faster computer or mobile phones at lower prices. Technological advances can also mean less energy consumption, reducing the carbon footprint of consumers and businesses.

Before manufacturing, Intel produces a 'blueprint' or design of what a particular microchip will be needed for. This outlines all the functions it will need to support, such as wireless capability or image software. The design has to answer key questions:

  • What type of chip is needed and why?
  • How many transistors can be built on the chip?
  • What is the best chip size?
  • What technology will be available to create the chip?
  • When does the chip need to be ready?
  • Where will it be manufactured and tested?

To answer these questions, Intel works with customers, software companies and Intel's marketing, manufacturing and testing staff.

Intel takes all the responses to define a chip's features and design. The designs are put together in the form of a computer-simulated chip that can be tested using Computer Aided Design (CAD). The CAD system tests, for example, how the transistors turn on and off. It also tests how the chip performs an action such as launching a computer operating system.

Intel | Using innovation to create competitive advantage