Revolution through Evolution

Father of the Pentium chip : Vinod Dham

Intel is a word which everyone is acquainted with- laptops seem less appealing without their logo- as soon as the ad pops up on our TV screens, we all hum along with the intel tune in our cacophonies, such is its relevance. And the inventor of the chip? Yes. An Indian. Known as the father of the Pentium chip, Vinod Dham did his electrical engineering from Delhi Technical University and chased his love for technology by completing his masters in electrical engineering at University of Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, where he specialized in solid state electronics.

Following this, he worked in NCR corporation in Ohio where he contributed significantly to developing advanced Non-volatile memories. It helped the company get a patent on mixed dielectric process and non volatile memory device. He is the co-inventor of flash memory.

Having achieved this, he was approached by intel where he honed his skills, leading Pentium project by working on Pentium predecessors- intel 386 & 486.

A dynamic person, he always had an itch to do something new. After serving intel for 16 years he joined a startup- NexGen as its chief operating officer. Even though the design team of NG was very good, it lacked strategy. Meanwhile, intel’s competitor- AMD launched a microprocessor K5, which turned out to be a flop. Vinod Dham’s idea to merge the two companies (whereby AMD acquired NG) led to the production of K6 which, then, became the fastest microprocessor in the world. Also, AMD priced K6 to create a PC below $1000, at a time when they were above $1500. Intel took the challenge and brought new PCs in the market with truncated pentium chips christened Celeron. This was a notable change as the prices of PCs were now in the favour of the consumers.

After spending a year at AMD post acquisition, he joined another startup in 1998 as its president and CEO. Silicon spice under him was redirected to build a new chip to support VoIP ( Voice over Internet Protocol) which would be used to deliver voice over the internet. In two years, Dham sold Silicon Spice to Broadcom for $1.2 billion.

Born in 1950, Pune, Vinod Dham is a role model to the youth of India. An inventor, entrepreneur and venture capitalist he has made full use of his potential. By the time he joined the 8 year old NexGen , he had built a brand for himself at the age of 45. Not only was he technically sound, he had entrenched amazing entrepreneurial skills with his past experiences. 

Arunima Agarwal

Having a passion for tech science and zeal to play with words, enthuse me to write about technological fables. A humble ambition to become a writer, I would like to get to you the stories of some amazing technocrats - who believe creativity and innovation are the best tools to sculpt a career for oneself.