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Intel Architecture Labs, also known as IAL, was the personal-computer system research-and-development arm of Intel Corporation during the 1990s. IAL was created by Intel Vice-President Ron Whittier together with Craig Kinnie and Steven McGeady to develop the hardware and software innovations considered to be lacking from PC OEMs and Microsoft in the late 1980s and 1990s.
IAL pursued both hardware and software initiatives, but the latter became de-emphasized after the efforts collided with similar activities by Microsoft. For example, Native Signal Processing (NSP) was a software initiative to allow Intel-based PCs to run time-sensitive code independently of the operating system, allowing real-time audio and video processing on the microprocessors of the mid-1990s. Microsoft refused to support NSP in its operating systems and convinced PC makers that the NSP drivers would render their systems unsupported, and Intel pulled back from promoting the software, leaving NSP as an orphan. IAL also tangled with Microsoft by supporting Netscape and their early browser, and by producing a fast native x86 port of the Java system. Most of these projects were later shelved, and after 1997 IAL tended not to risk competing with Microsoft. The details of IAL's conflicts with Microsoft over software were revealed in Steven McGeady's testimony in the Microsoft anti-trust trial.
Not all of IAL's software efforts met bad ends due to Microsoft--IAL developed one of the first software digital video systems, Indeo(tm) - technology that was used in its ProShare videoconferencing product line but suffered later from neglect and was sold to another company in the late 1990s.
However, IAL successes in the hardware world are legendary, and include PCI, USB, AGP, the Northbridge/Southbridge core logic architecture and PCI Express (the now-dominant architecture for multi-processor servers).
In 2001, after the departure of all of its creators, IAL was disbanded and replaced with the very different Intel Labs under Pat Gelsinger, though most of the creative talent that had been in IAL was by then scattered across the company or had left entirely. In a 2005 re-organization, Intel Labs itself was reorganized with the intent of rebuilding a research function.
Compare Intel's Architecture Development Lab.
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