SAN JOSE, Calif. Intel chief executive Craig Barrett has taken firefighting to a level rarely experienced by other corporate chieftains. With fires ravaging land Barrett owns in the Bitter Root Valley, about 70 miles south of Missoula, Mont., Barrett leased enough earth-moving equipment to create a fire break.
Barrett said his Triple Creek Ranch was untouched by the fires, but another nearby spread of about 10,000 acres was badly damaged.
"The Forest Service has three levels of priorities, and our second piece of land, which has no structures on it, is not on the priority list. They are properly concerned about the spread of fire to structures and people," Barrett said after a Tuesday morning keynote speech at the Intel Developer Forum here.
Over the past three weeks Barrett managed to lease two D8 Caterpillar earth movers, a smaller D6 "Cat" and several otherpieces of smaller equipment t hat were transported to the area.
"It's amazing what you can do with those big Cats in terms of transforming a piece of land," said Barrett, a former Stanford materials science professor who counts fly fishing as a serious hobby.
Despite the creation of the firebreak, fire has consumed about half of the 10,000-acre property. "It's very sad to sit back and see trees burn," he said.
An Intel spokesman said Barrett was able to assist the Forest Service by providing accurate aerial photographs of the region. The Barretts are already working on a plan to restore trees to the damaged property.
Understaffed and overextended
Just as the U.S. Forest Service is badly undermanned for this year's unusually difficult fire season, Barrett said that Intel also needs more resources to accomplish its projects.
Asked if Intel had experienced an unusual number of late and faulty chip designs, Barrett said Intel was reconsidering its project management skills.
"We took steps that were too big, " he said, referring to the level of ambition of the projects attempted over the past year. "We looked at too many opportunities in too many areas. Since then we have gone back and looked at our staffing algorithm, at management issues such as our project planning and project staffing ... routine stuff."
The Itanium and Pentium 4 processors, the StrongARM2 and DSP effort, support for the Rambus memory architecture and a plethora of acquisitions in the networking and communications space have all required engineering and management resources.
Pat Gelsinger, vice president and chief technology officer of the Intel Architecture Group, said managing Intel has become more complicated as the company attacks new segments.
Also, Gelsinger said, "We've never had so many job requisitions open over the past five years. Hiring in Silicon Valley now is hell, which is why we've created these new sites." Intel plans to hire about 1,500 engineers in Austin, Texas, for example, where housing costs while ri sing sharply remain far lower than in California.