Research and Development

We are committed to investing in world-class technology development, particularly in the design and manufacture of integrated circuits. Research and development (R&D) expenditures were $10.1 billion in 2012 ($8.4 billion in 2011 and $6.6 billion in 2010). 

Our R&D activities are directed toward developing the technology innovations that we believe will deliver our next generation of products, which will in turn enable new form factors and usage models for businesses and consumers. Our R&D activities range from designing and developing new products and manufacturing processes to researching future technologies and products. 

As part of our R&D efforts, we plan to introduce a new microarchitecture for our notebook, Ultrabook system, and Intel Xeon processors approximately every two years and ramp the next generation of silicon process technology in the intervening years. We refer to this as our “tick-tock” technology development cadence as subsequently illustrated. In 2012, we started manufacturing products with our 4th generation Intel® Core microarchitecture, a new microarchitecture using our existing 22nm three-dimensional Tri-Gate transistor process technology (22nm process technology). We are currently developing 14nm process technology, our next-generation process technology, and expect to begin manufacturing products using that technology in 2013. Our leadership in silicon technology has enabled us to make Moore’s Law a reality. 


Our leadership in silicon technology has also helped expand on the advances anticipated by Moore’s Law by bringing new capabilities into silicon and producing new products optimized for a wider variety of applications. We have accelerated the Intel Atom processor-based SoC roadmap for smartphones, tablets, and other devices, from 32nm through 22nm to 14nm. We intend that Intel Atom processors will eventually be on the same process technology as our leading-edge products for both smartphones and tablets. We expect that this acceleration will result in a significant reduction in transistor leakage, lower active power, and an increase in transistor density to enable more powerful smartphones and tablets with more features and longer battery life. 

We focus our R&D efforts on advanced computing technologies, developing new microarchitectures, advancing our silicon manufacturing process technology, delivering the next generation of microprocessors and chipsets, improving our platform initiatives, and developing software solutions and tools. Our R&D efforts are intended to enable new levels of performance and address areas such as energy efficiency, security, scalability for multi-core architectures, system manageability, and ease of use. We continue to make significant R&D investments in the development of SoCs to enable growth in areas such as smartphones, tablets, and embedded applications. For example, we continue to build smartphone and tablet reference designs to showcase the benefits of Intel architecture. In addition, we continue to make significant investments in wireless technologies, graphics, and HPC. 

Our R&D model is based on a global organization that emphasizes a collaborative approach to identifying and developing new technologies, leading standards initiatives, and influencing regulatory policies to accelerate the adoption of new technologies, including joint pathfinding conducted between researchers at Intel Labs and our business groups. We centrally manage key cross-business group product initiatives to align and prioritize our R&D activities across these groups. In addition, we may augment our R&D activities by investing in companies or entering into agreements with companies that have similar R&D focus areas, as well as directly purchasing or licensing technology applicable to our R&D initiatives. An example of augmenting our R&D activities is the series of agreements we entered into in the third quarter of 2012 with ASML. These agreements, in which Intel purchased ASML securities and agreed to provide R&D funding over five years, are intended to accelerate the development of 450mm wafer technology and EUV lithography. Additionally, in the second quarter of 2012 we entered into agreements with Micron to modify our joint venture relationship, extending Intel and Micron’s NAND joint development program and expanding it to include emerging memory technologies. For further information, see “Note 6: Available-for-Sale Investments and Cash Equivalents” and “Note 10: Equity Method and Cost Method Investments” in Part II, Item 8 of this Form 10-K.