Case | HBS Case Collection | June 2007 (Revised April 2009)

Intel 2006: Rising to the Graphics Challenge

by Willy C. Shih and Elie Ofek


Examines the evolution of the PC hardware industry over the span of two and a half decades. The open architecture design of the IBM Personal Computer followed by the rapid appearance of clones drove a high level of standardization and modularity in the industry, and value was distributed along the value chain depending on levels of competition and ability to substitute components at each level. On the hardware side two component segments, the microprocessor and the graphics processor unit (GPU), ultimately became the most valuable parts of the chain. The GPU business had settled into a duopoly with Nvidia, Inc. and ATI Technologies (ATI). Intel had dominated the microprocessor segment, but Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) was consistently a thorn in Intel's side. Addresses the prospects of the graphics function becoming integrated with the microprocessor on a single piece of silicon. AMD had just announced the acquisition of ATI and Paul Otellini, Intel's CEO, is faced with the question of what he should do. Should he buy Nvidia, should he continue with his own internal graphics efforts, or should he listen to some of his customers and leave things separate?

Keywords: History; Customer Value and Value Chain; Decision Choices and Conditions; Hardware; Competitive Strategy; Mergers and Acquisitions; Technology Industry;


Shih, Willy C., and Elie Ofek. "Intel 2006: Rising to the Graphics Challenge." Harvard Business School Case 607-136, June 2007. (Revised April 2009.)