Intel CEO reveals strategy for chip giant’s smart, connected future

27 Apr 2016

The PC revolution is over, says Intel CEO Brian Krzanich who revealed the chip giant's strategy on cloud, 5G, FPGAs, internet of things and Moore's Law

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich has set out his strategic vision for the future of the company and said that this will involve transforming itself from a PC company to becoming the intrinsic link between the cloud, 5G and the internet of things (IoT).

A week after announcing the company would be cutting 11pc of its global workforce as part of a major restructure that pretty much marked the end of the PC revolution, Krzanich said that there will be five core areas to Intel’s strategy in the coming years. This includes cloud, IoT, 5G, programmable chips and the evolution of Moore’s Law.

He said that the cloud is the most important trend shaping the entire tech industry and, therefore, Intel’s future.

The cloud, he added, will underpin the future of personal computing and the internet of things.

‘Our strategy itself is about transforming Intel from a PC company to a company that powers the cloud and billions of smart, connected computing devices’

Intel will need to maintain its leadership in semiconductors and specifically programmable chips like FPGA (field programmable gate arrays) in order to equip the next generation of makers and IoT stalwarts.

Krzanich predicted that 5G will become the key technology for the always-on, cloud-connected world.

He also said that Moore’s Law will continue to progress and Intel will continue to deliver its key economic impact.

Intel’s total transformation strategy

“Our strategy itself is about transforming Intel from a PC company to a company that powers the cloud and billions of smart, connected computing devices,” Krzanich said.

“We head into that future with tremendous assets and advantages: our spirit of innovation, our technology and manufacturing leadership, and the trust of our customers. But what does that future look like? I want to outline how I see the future unfolding and how Intel will continue to lead and win as we power the next generation of technologies.”

Krzanich said that the cloud and data centre, IoT, memory and FPGAs are all bound together by connectivity and enhanced by the economics of Moore’s Law.

“There is much more value to unlock from the cloud and data centre, and analytics is the key to that. We’ll accelerate the power and value of analytics by continuing to innovate in high-performance computing, big data and machine learning capabilities.”

On IoT, Krzanich said that “things” can range from PCs to all kinds of smart devices.

“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. And the biggest opportunity in the internet of things is that it encompasses just about everything in our lives today – it’s ubiquitous. For most areas of industry and retail – from our shoes and clothes to our homes and cars – the internet of things is transforming everything and every experience.

“At Intel, we will focus on autonomous vehicles, industrial and retail as our primary growth drivers of the internet of things. 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,” Krzanich said.

He said that rack scale architecture, 3D xpoint memory, FPGAs and silicon photonics are just a few examples of technologies that have been in development for several years at Intel and that the company will bring to production soon.

Ultimately, the future is about comms and connectivity specifically.

‘We are in a time when technology is valued not just for the devices it produces, but for the experiences it makes possible’

“Threading all of this virtuous cycle together is connectivity – the fact that providing computing power to a device and connecting it to the cloud makes it more valuable. A great example is an autonomous vehicle. It must have connectivity to the cloud, and the cloud must have machine learning capabilities to constantly be guided by the most up-to-date algorithms and data sets that allow the vehicle to operate safely.

“In this way, connectivity is fundamental to every one of the cloud-to-thing segments we will drive. As the world moves to 5G, Intel will lead because of our technological strength to deliver end-to-end 5G systems, from modems to base stations to all the various forms of connectivity that exist today and will exist tomorrow.”

Finally, he said that Moore’s Law has a lot of life in it yet and will be fundamental to the future of computing for some time.

“Moore’s Law is fundamentally a law of economics, and Intel will confidently continue to harness its value. The law says that we can shrink transistor dimensions by roughly 50pc at a roughly fixed cost, thus driving twice the transistors for the same cost (or the same number of transistors for half the cost). This concept has fueled the technology revolution all of us have lived through.”

But ultimately the devil is in the detail and Intel will need to execute sharper and faster in terms of catching technology trends and not repeating old mistakes, as it clearly missed the smartphone revolution.

“We are in a time when technology is valued not just for the devices it produces, but for the experiences it makes possible. Intel will lead in this new era by remaining true to our history as inventors and makers, as a global leader in manufacturing, as world-class innovators.

“We will also lead by becoming a company with a broader focus, and with sharper execution. In doing so, we will create lasting value for our customers, partners and shareholders, and achieve our mission to lead in a smart, connected world.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years