11-02-2021 09:00 AM
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You can help build many different kinds of solutions and technologies at Intel — but perhaps none as important as your own career. We caught up with three long-time employees to ask them about why Intel has remained such an exciting place to work, learn, and thrive.
More than a decade into his career at Intel, Naru Sundar, a principal engineer, still considers himself to be working his first job after college. Although he came into Intel through an acquisition, it is here where he’s had the chance to work directly across a range of cutting-edge technologies — both software and hardware.
“There is something special about working somewhere where you can access the entire breadth and spread of computing in one company,” Sundar says, his eyes lighting up. “It means there’s a lot of opportunity.”
Most recently, Sundar has been working on a team that’s developing a line of infrastructure processing units (IPUs) that will help cloud and communication service providers intelligently manage vital resources, enabling them to deliver service to billions of people effortlessly. Designed for today’s cloud infrastructures, IPUs ensure applications can deliver the performance and protection they need — a prospect that gets Sundar excited.
“Everything we do on our phones today is backed by the cloud,” he says. “But the way those cloud systems are architected is really different from how we used to design software and applications a decade ago. The IPU is a big part of how that transformation is happening.”
The chance to be at the center of a movement isn’t the only reason why Sundar has remained at Intel so long. It’s also the people. Whenever he wants, Sundar says he can find an expert to learn and grow from. “Even our management staff is technically proficient. We’re tech geeks at heart,” he says. “Products come and go, but the team is what persists over products. Having that and combining it with the ability to access this broad community of customers, this broad spread of technologies, that’s a fantastic combination.”
Throughout Intel’s long history, it has been known as an innovative company where you could come to work on groundbreaking products, services, and technologies. But part of what has made the company so successful is not just its relentless focus on building transformational solutions — Intel is also a place where countless people, like Sundar, have come to build thriving careers.
The sheer number of opportunities that can be found at Intel is one of the main reasons Arik Gihon, a senior principal engineer, has been at the company for about 18 years (or, as he says, his “seventh CPU generation”).
“Intel gave me opportunities,” he says. “They came to me and offered things. And when I looked for things I always found a new thing to do. It’s a big company and it does almost everything, so you can just choose whatever you want to do.”
For Gihon, this has meant working in design roles, as part of front-end teams, on a binary translation project, and on power and performance. Currently, he is working on CPU architecture with a focus on power management and power delivery, among other concentrations and recently leading the CPU SoC Hardware Architecture team. Intel has “its own process of understanding the employee, their needs, what they want to do, how they are going to develop,” Gihon says, “both to be engineers and for the engineers to be happy with what they’re doing.”
This process, as well as Gihon’s relentless curiosity, helped him play a lead role in developing the 12th Gen Intel Core processor family. This entire generation of PC processors is based on a new performance hybrid architecture, code-named “Alder Lake,” that scales across every PC segment from ultra-thin-and-light laptops to high-end desktops for enthusiast gamers. Its unique mixing of performance and efficient cores is Intel’s biggest architectural shift in more than a decade for x86 processing—pushing the limits of performance across all types of workloads.
“Alder Lake brings a solution for real physical constraints that the entire industry is dealing with,” Gihon says. “It’s considered a revolution in the CPUs.”
But more than just working on the technology itself, Gihon says he appreciates being at an organization where he feels he can make a significant impact. “One of the nicest things at Intel,” he says, “is we develop in a democracy. As an employee and an engineer, you can be involved and say what you think in almost every area. You can talk to people about almost anything.”
“You don’t need to work at a startup to be at the lead and do many things,” he adds. “You get it at Intel, so this is probably a very good time to be here.”
Nevine Nassif knows something about Intel’s commitment to fostering growth and inclusion across the company. As chief engineer of the Sapphire Rapids team, she embodies what leadership looks like at the company. “You listen to people, you talk to people, and, most important, you have their back,” she says. “If something goes wrong, it’s the team, it’s not the person. We’re all in it together, we all help each other, we’re all there for each other.”
After starting at Intel 18 years ago, Nassif’s dedication to this vision has made her an Intel fellow and helped successfully guide her team as they build Intel’s next generation data center processors — a project she says will have wide implications. “This technology allows you to process and access a lot more data as well as enable a broader set of higher performing algorithms,” she says. “And of course, we won’t stop there. We will keep going with future generation Xeon Scalable processors that will, in my mind, improve lives and get us to a place where we’re all more connected.”
This idea of building connection is a motivating force for Nassif, one that she has been able to foster throughout her career at Intel. “I’m eager to see how the products we make are used to improve lives,” she says. “It’s very important, for me, to see the connection between the technology and the benefits to society.”
But she also recognizes that one of the core reasons she has not only stayed, but thrived at Intel goes back to the people. “It’s humbling to see how many people care and want to be a team and want to bring this technology to market,” she says. “The commitment is amazing. And when you see some of the commitment, you don’t want to let other people down. You want to do your part because everyone else is pulling really strongly to get there.”
The opportunity to work with amazing people, on a range of different projects, and build both technology and careers that actually makes a difference in the world is something that all three employees agree sets Intel apart.
“It’s a really amazing feeling to find a vocational family you can stick with and still have the flexibility to go try something different and be supported in that,” says Sundar. “That’s not something you get everywhere. There’s so many opportunities within Intel to try different things.”
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