Intel Doubles Down on AI, Autonomous Vehicles, VR For Enterprise Share your comment!

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Kaby Lake Core chip: source: Intel:

New chips, new graphics, analytics and ways to interact will expand work, play and research with as dramatic an effect as the Industrial Revolution, CEO Krzanich says.

Intel Corp. has reiterated its commitment to artificial intelligence, machine learning and a host of other high–performance datacenter technologies toward which CEO Brian Krzanich shifted the company in August.

The chipmaker is accelerating its efforts to produce technology capable of supporting artificial intelligence, deep learning, machine learning and other science-fiction-sounding HPC functions.

Intel backed up the focus with announcements at the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas of new virtual-reality products, 5G wireless connections designed to improve range and control of drones, autonomous vehicles and Internet of Things devices.

It also announced investment in a global location-services/digital-mapping form called HERE that will serve the market for autonomous vehicles, new products form Intel’s GO line of intelligent-automotive solutions and a deal with Mobileye and BMW to put 40 autonomous vehicles on the road this year.

It also shipped more than 40 versions of  the 14nm Kaby Lake generation of processors that combine CPU and GPU functions, and improve on previous Skylake versions with better graphics and video processing.

And it announced a new set of 10nm chips code-named “Cannon Lake,” which Krzanich used to demonstrate 2-in-1 PCs and virtual reality setups featuring the Oculus Rift headset and Project Alloy — an augmented-reality technology Intel announced in August that may ship as product in mid-year.

Virtual reality, drones and autonomous card don’t sound like enterprise/datacenter technology, but are all part of the artificial-intelligence-based, heavily robotized, reality-virtualized vision of the future Intel announced in August — the technology and economics of which are relentlessly business-focused.

Intel’s announcement last August that it would shift its developmental focus away from its traditional PC markets, whose margins continue to shrink as its hardware becomes even more of a commodity. Instead, Intel announced it would focus on HPC, datacenters and artificial intelligence machine learning  and a host of other high-performance computing capabilities.

In a blog Nov. 17, Krzanich called AI “not only the next big wave of computing…[but a] major turning point in human history.”

It was also an opportunity to focus on high-end technologies of the kind that have driven revenue and profits steadily higher for Intel’s Datacenter Group. Intel’s DCG has grown in revenue and importance as the market has shifted toward high-performance computing in the cloud to support a business market whose decisions increasingly revolve around HPC-driven big-data analytics — a shift predicted in a 2014 Gartner report.

The August announcements included a host of announcements of new products including a new, upcoming generation of Xeon Phi CPU/GPUs code-named Knights Mill, plans to sell commercial version of  the silicon photonics, updates to its Hyperscale datacenter reference architectures, a new set of datacenter-management applications and a host of AI and machine-learning-specific libraries and research efforts.

It also included Intel acquisitions such as Itseez, Nervana Systems and Movidius

The combination of factors represented a picture of business technology that  Jason Waxman — VP of the Data Center Group and GM of Cloud Platforms — called “the next big wave of compute that will transform the way businesses operate and how people engage with the world.”

The shift toward HPC and the cloud will continue, Krzanich predicted; AI capabilities as simplistic as Apple’s Siri and Google’s Alexa personal automated assistants proliferate and robotic, autonomous vehicles evolve to the point that taking drivers out of the equation makes roads more safe rather than less.

Intel isn’t alone in noticing the trend.

A July, 2016 CB Insights white paper estimated that investment in startups had grown fourfold between 2011 and 2015; it  predicted investment in AI research and development would reach $1.2 billion during 2016 — an increase of 76 percent over the previous year.

The focus on AI was a strategic shift, Krzanich said at the time, and reiterated in an editorial recently.

The rush of products at CES, and the preview during “AI Day” in November confirmed Intel’s goal to build out a digital-decisionmaking ecosystem that could have as dramatic an effect as the steam powered Industrial Revolution.

“The Intelligence Revolution will be driven by data, neural networks and computing power,” Krzanich wrote Nov. 17. “AI will extend our human senses and capabilities to teach us new things, enrich how we interact with the world around us, and improve our decision-making.

“We’ll experience a safer and more productive world by relieving us of a wide range of tasks, such as driving, firefighting and mining, and many more,” he concluded. “Intel is committed to AI and is making major investments in technology and developer resources to advance AI for business and society.”

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Intelligence revolution: (graphic from Krzanich’s Nov. 17 editorial)

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Brian Krzanich, Intel chief executive officers, displays the Project Alloy all-in-one virtual reality headset at a company news conference on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017, in Las Vegas. Intel Corporation presents new technology at the 2017 International Consumer Electronics Show. The event runs from Jan. 5 to Jan. 8, 2017, in Las Vegas. (CREDIT: Walden Kirsch/Intel Corporation);

Posted on January 10, 2017 by John O'Donnell, Slashdot Media Contributing Editor