Co-developer of Intel’s Pentium processor, Avtar Saini, dies in road accident

Saini earned five US patents for chip design and helped set up Intel’s India Development Centre

Avtar Saini / (from his Facebook page)

Avtar Saini, credited with the key development processes of Intel's Pentium processor in the early 1980s, died tragically in Mumbai in the early hours of February 28. He was 68.

A group of cycling enthusiasts, including Saini, set out from Chembur, a Mumbai suburb, to Kharghar, close to Panvel, approximately 18 kms away, when Saini was hit by a taxi cab in Navi Mumbai and died before his friends could reach him to a hospital.

Raised in Mumbai, Saini earned a Bachelor of Engineering degree in electrical engineering from Victoria Jubilee Technical Institute and a Master of Science from the University of Minnesota. He joined Intel in 1982 as a product engineer, specializing in magnetic bubble memories. In the  early 1980s, he worked as a circuit designer on the Intel 386, Intel 486 pprocessors,and in 1989, was designated co-leader of the team that was to develop the Pentium processor. The leader was another Indian – Vinod Dham.


Photo courtesy LinkedIn/ Dr Satya Gupta / The core team behind the Pentium Processor: Intel's then CEO Andy Grove with Vinod Dham, Avtar Saini and John Crawford.

Saini was largely responsible for taking the Pentium to production and was then closely involved in Intel’s transition to 64 bit processors as  General Manager of the Santa Clara Microprocessor Division.

In 1999, Saini moved to Bangalore as director of Intel South Asia, headquartered in India and was responsible for creating Intel’s India Development Centre, where his earlier work on 64 bit processors culminated in the joint development, across India and the US of the Itanium chip. His work earned him 5 US patents.

Saini served as a vice president of the company until he left in 2004. In 2017, he joined the director board of the  Ahmedabad and Santa Clara ( US) -based, Indian talent fuelled chip design company eInfochips.

Varghese Thomas, who headed corporate communications in Bangalore for Intel during Saini’s tenure as director, Condoled his death on Facebook.“I had the privilege of collaborating with Avtar on various events and PR initiatives, where he consistently served as a source of inspiration, particularly for someone like myself who entered Intel with a limited technological background. He possessed a commanding presence yet remained grounded to his core.”