Intel’s cancelling of IDF signals end of PC era, beginning of machines era

18 Apr 2017

Image: Dan74/Shutterstock

In the starkest demonstration yet that the PC age is over, Intel is retiring IDF after 20 years.

Intel is cancelling its Intel Developer Forum (IDF), embracing its overall strategic pivot (which began a year ago) from being a maker of chips for PCs to being a maker of chips for data centres and the internet of things (IoT).

In the mid-1990s, both Intel and Microsoft dominated the PC revolution, as the first of what would one day be billions of internet users found their feet with beige boxes and 56k modems.

As PCs became sleeker and more refined with the dawn of the cloud era, Intel and Microsoft were prepared to dominate once again but, tragically for them, they were wrong-footed by the smartphone revolution and neither company was nimble enough to correct its course.

Intel’s big gamble on the age of machines

But that all changed for Intel in 2013 when its CEO, Brian Krzanich, took the reins. Last year, he embarked on a blitz of cuts that saw 11pc of the company’s global workforce laid off.

He also set out his strategic vision for the company, which involved transforming it from a PC company to being the intrinsic link between the cloud in the data centre, 5G and IoT.

At the core of this is Intel’s enduring edge in 14nm and 10nm microprocessors and the evolution of Moore’s Law.

The surest sign yet that Intel is burning its old PC boats on the beaches in order to march forward is its decision to cancel its long-running Intel Developer Forum.

“Intel has evolved its event portfolio and decided to retire the IDF programme moving forward,” the company announced overnight.

“Thank you for nearly 20 great years with the Intel Developer Forum! Intel has a number of resources available on, including a Resource and Design Center with documentation, software, and tools for designers, engineers and developers. As always, our customers, partners and developers should reach out to their Intel representative with questions.”

The IDF, similar to Apple’s WWDC or Microsoft’s Build conference, was the scene for annual product announcements, including CPUs such as Skylake.

This signals that Intel is becoming less and less about definitive products and milestones, and more about the sinews and vessels that carry data in a new emerging world of AI, mixed reality, 5G, data centres and IoT.

Rather than one developer event, it is possible that Intel could branch into several specific developer genres.

The PC era is dead. Long live the machines era.

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