Intel visit:

The applications of intel chips

We visited Intel Mobile Communications in the morning of 16 Nov 2012.

Mr. Kwok Lih (a alumni of The Chinese High School) gave us a very warm reception, followed by a presentation specially tailored and pitched at our level.

He firstly gave us an introduction regarding the background of Intel from starting at Silicon Valley to the one of the leading companies in semiconductor industry. We learnt that Intel was originally called “NM Electronics”, as the company was founded by physicists Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore. (Interesting trivia: Why is it not named “MN Electronics”? MN (surnames of the founders) would sound like “More Noise Electronics” - a big taboo in electronics).

Mr. Kwok next brough us through the history of semiconductor industry. One of the inventors of transistors, William Shockley eventually became famous and started up Shockley Semiconductors, which eventually gave birth to all the semiconductor companies we know of today from the Fairchild at the beginning to Intel, AMD, and other IT companies . We realized the importance of automatic control system, and learned mechanics of transistors and silicon chips as well.

The central part of the presentation was on communication technology. Mr Kwok spent much time explaining how mobile phones work and future development.

In the afternoon, we got a chance to tour two labs. In one lab, we saw many testing boards which were extended versions of our mobile phones. They also had several expensive instruments which were used to generate cellular signals like the cellular towers. These instruments enabled them to test their chips in the various emulated conditions.The engineers in the lab explained to us how to wield the components to the board as well.

In the next lab, we saw an anechoic chamber used for sound testing. The walls of the chamber were padded with pyramidal foam. Inside the chamber was a dummy robot with earphones and a microphone to simulate a person making phone calls. The chamber blocks outside sounds and electromagnetic waves to minimise the negative effects of 'noise' in the experiments.

In the wrap-up session, Mr Kwok showed us video of Steve Jobs' famous speech at Standford University, 2007. The three stories from the videos (1. connecting the dots, 2. love and loss and 3. death) stimulated our thoughts. It is the passion and dedication of engineers that brought forth today's advanced technology.

Afterwards, some of us stayed on to participate in a community service initiated by Intel where used notebooks were refurbished for a children's home.

Throughout the day, Intel treated us generously with food - tea-breaks in the morning and afternoon, plus a sumptious buffet lunch!

The happy participants and the warm Intel Engineers

Photos of post-trip activity: