Krzanich wrote that Intel plans to attack the data center on two key fronts: virtualization, which creates demand for pricey, high-end chips by using them to power many “virtual PCs” in the cloud; and analytics, which takes all the data being collected by the cloud from sensors and other devices, and extracts information from it. The latter capability, of course, requires even more server hardware.
Krzanich also pledged to drive “more and more of the footprint of the data center to Intel architecture.” Try as it might, AMD has continued to lose share in the enterprise—though it recently tried to steal some back with a licensing effort.
Putting the PC in its place
For months now, Intel executives have offered variations on the same line: “Everything’s connected, and everything that’s connected, computes.” Intel plans to lead in the technology around connected things, Kzanich pledged.
“’Things’ range from PCs to what we now call the Internet of Things,” Krzanich explained. “The Internet of Things encompasses all smart devices—every device, sensor, console and any other client device—that are connected to the cloud. The key phrase here is ‘connected to the cloud.’ It means that everything that a ‘thing’ does can be captured as a piece of data, measured real-time, and is accessible from anywhere.”
In Intel’s world, devices are simply means of producing (not consuming!) data. And the amount of data you produce, tapping away at your computer, is potentially minuscule compared to the data sampled by the LiDAR sensor of a self-driving car. That’s important to realize: At one time, PCs demanded so much data that they could bog down the available network bandwidth and compute power of a client device. Today, machines talking to machines generate those workloads.
“At Intel, we will focus on autonomous vehicles, industrial and retail as our primary growth drivers of the Internet of Things,” Krzanich wrote. “Similarly, we view our core client business of PCs and mobile as among the many variations of connected things, which is driving our strategy of differentiation and segmentation in the Internet of Things business.”
Intel doubles down on 5G connectivity
What’s unclear about that strategy is whether Intel intends to compete with ARM in powering smartphone processors. The recent, quiet departure of a key embedded exec, Aicha Evans, indicates that Intel has failed for the moment. But Krzanich and Intel clearly intend to double down on their investments in 5G connectivity, as Krzanich pledged that Intel would lead in this new sector.
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