Previous Blogs

December 8, 2020
Cisco Webex Updates Tools for Hybrid Work Environments

December 1, 2020
Qualcomm Pushes Mobility Forward with Snapdragon 888

November 17, 2020
Microsoft and Chip Partners Help Secure Future PCs with Pluton Processor

November 10, 2020
MediaTek Driving New Low-Cost Options for 5G and Chromebooks

October 27, 2020
Sony Highlights Remote Technologies for Creators

October 21, 2020
Dell Technologies Embraces “As-A-Service” Models with Project Apex

October 13, 2020
PC Growth and Evolution Continues to Impress

October 6, 2020
Google Workspace Reflects Changing Nature of Productivity

September 22, 2020
Microsoft Highlights Future of Work with Teams Updates

September 14, 2020
Nvidia Purchase of Arm Completely Resets Semiconductor Landscape

September 1, 2020
Nvidia Pushes Ray-Traced Gaming Ahead with 3000 Series GPUs

August 25, 2020
Pending Fall Tech Releases Bring Excitement and Hope for Normalcy

August 18, 2020
Intel Chip Advancements Show They’re Up for a Competitive Challenge

August 11, 2020
New 5G Opportunities Coming with Mid-Band Radio Frequencies

July 28, 2020
The Shifting Semiconductor Sands

July 21, 2020
Microsoft and Partners Bring More Hyperconverged Hybrid Cloud Options to Azure

July 14, 2020
New Study Highlights Pandemic-Driven Shifts in IT Priorities

July 7, 2020
Nvidia Virtual GPU Update Brings Remote Desktops, Workstations and VR to Life

June 30, 2020
Power Efficient Computing Noteworthy During Pandemic

June 23, 2020
Apple Transition Provides Huge Boost for Arm

June 16, 2020
Cisco Highlights Focus on Location as Companies Start to Reopen

June 9, 2020
WiFi 6E Opens New Possibilities for Fast Wireless Connectivity

May 26, 2020
Arm Doubles Down on AI for Mobile Devices

May 19, 2020
Microsoft Project Reunion Widens Windows 10 Opportunity to One Billion Devices

May 12, 2020
New Workplace Realities Highlight Opportunity for Cloud-Based Apps and Devices

May 5, 2020
HP’s New Chromebooks, Thin Clients and Gaming Machines Highlight PC Evolution

April 28, 2020
Google Anthos Extending Cloud Reach with Cisco, Amazon and Microsoft Connections

April 21, 2020
Remote Access Solutions Getting Extended and Expanded

April 14, 2020
Apple Google Contact Tracing Effort Raises Fascinating New Questions

April 7, 2020
Need for Multiple Video Platforms Becoming Apparent

March 31, 2020
Microsoft 365 Shift Demonstrates Evolution of Cloud-Based Services

March 24, 2020
The Time for Pragmatism in Tech is Now

March 17, 2020
The Value of Contingencies and Remote Collaboration

March 10, 2020
AMD Highlights Path to the Future

March 3, 2020
Coronavirus-Induced Pause Gives Tech Industry Opportunity to Reflect

February 25, 2020
Intel Focuses on 5G Infrastructure

February 18, 2020
Apple Coronavirus Warnings Highlight Complexities of Tech Supply Chains

February 11, 2020
Arm Brings AI and Machine Learning to IoT and the Edge

February 4, 2020
Nvidia Opens Next Chapter of Cloud Gaming

January 21, 2020
Cloud Workload Variations Highlight Diversity of Cloud Computing

January 14, 2020
New Research Shows It’s a Hybrid and Multi-Cloud World

January 7, 2020
It’s 2020 and PCs are Alive and Kicking

2019 Blogs

2018 Blogs

2017 Blogs

2016 Blogs

2015 Blogs

2014 Blogs

2013 Blogs

TECHnalysis Research Blog

December 15, 2020
Intel Bets Future on Software and Manufacturing

By Bob O'Donnell

At last week’s Intel Analyst Day, the company made a number of intriguing disclosures and bold proclamations that highlight how it sees its future evolving. What made the information even more intriguing—and frankly, more compelling—is that they did so while also offering a refreshing level of honesty and transparency about challenges they’ve faced.

While the information about manufacturing delays at both their 10nm and 7nm process nodes isn’t new—10nm has been talked about for years and they relayed concerns about potential setbacks for 7nm earlier this year—and the competitive challenges they’re facing from AMD, Arm architectures, and others are well known, their responses felt new. From CEO Bob Swan on down, the manner with which Intel executives talked about these issues made it clear that they’ve not only accepted them, they’ve developed strategies to help overcome them.

On the manufacturing front, despite calls from some in the industry to get out of chip fabrication or, at the least, concerns about the reliability or stability of that portion of their business, company executives were extremely clear: they have absolutely no intention of moving away from being an IDM (Integrated Device Manufacturer) that both designs and builds its own chips. Yes, they know to regain some of the trust they lost after slipping from their long-held lead as manufacturing process champions. Recent announcements on fundamental transistor improvements as well as innovative chip packaging technologies, however, coupled with their long history of effort and innovation in these areas gives them the confidence that they can compete and even win. (See “Intel Chip Advancements Show They’re Up for a Competitive Challenge” ).

The basic chip hardware strategy focuses on two key elements. The first of these they’re calling disaggregation—that is, the breaking up of larger monolithic chip designs into a variety of smaller chiplets connected together via high-speed links and packaged together with a variety of different technologies. The second is referred to generically as XPUs, but essentially means a diversification of core chip architectures, with much greater support for more specialized “accelerator” silicon designs. Again, Intel made it clear that CPUs will continue to be their primary focus, but they are greatly stepping up their efforts on GPUs with their Xe line, as well as various types of AI accelerators, particularly those from its acquisition of Habana, and on FPGAs, such as its Stratix line.

While they are all interesting and important on their own, it’s their ability to potentially work together where the real opportunity is. In a presentation from SVP and Chief Architect Raja Koduri, the company clearly demonstrated how increasingly challenging and diverse types of data analysis tasks are significantly overwhelming the current trajectories for existing CPU designs. That’s why different types of chip architectures with specialized capabilities that are better suited for certain aspects of these computing tasks are so critical—hence the need for more variety.

The real magic, however, can only happen with software that unites them all and that’s where Intel’s oneAPI fits in. Originally announced two years ago, oneAPI is an open, standards-based, unified programming model that’s designed to make it easier for developers to be able to write software that can take advantage of all the unique capabilities of these different chip architectures. Critically, it does so without the need to know how to specifically write code that’s customized for them. This is absolutely essential because there is a very limited set of developers that can write software for each one of these different accelerators, let alone all of these different chip types.

The company achieves this important capability by providing a hardware abstraction layer and a set of software development tools that does the incredibly hard work of figuring out what bits of code can run most effectively on each of the different chips (or, at least, each of the components available in a given system). It’s an incredibly challenging goal, so it isn’t surprising that it’s taken a while to come to fruition, but at the Analyst Event last week, Intel announced that they had started shipping the base oneAPI toolkit along with several other options that are specialized for applications such as HPC (High Performance Computing), AI, IoT, and Rendering. This marks a key step forward in the evolution of Intel’s software strategy that, while it will take a while to fully unfold, shows that they’re bringing this audacious vision to life.

Equally interesting was an explanation of how Intel is making this seemingly magical cross- architecture technology work. Basically, the company is applying some of the same principles and learnings from their experience with adding instruction extensions for CPUs (such as AVX, AVX-512, etc.) to additional chip architectures. As it found with those efforts, usage of the new capabilities can take a while unless there is thorough support throughout a range of development tools such as compilers, performance libraries, and more. That’s what Intel is launching with its oneAPI toolkit in an effort to jumpstart the technology’s usage. In addition, the company has created a compatibility tool for porting code written in Nvidia’s popular CUDA language for GPUs. This provides a big head start for developers who have experience with or software already written in CUDA.

Given that it was just released, the final performance and real-world effectiveness of the oneAPI toolkit remains to be seen. However, it’s clear that Intel is moving forward with its strategy of unifying its increasingly diverse set of chip architectures through a single unified software platform. Conceptually, it’s been a very appealing idea since the company first unveiled it several years back—here’s hoping the reality proves to be equally appealing.

Here’s a link to the original column:

Bob O’Donnell is the president and chief analyst of TECHnalysis Research, LLC a market research firm that provides strategic consulting and market research services to the technology industry and professional financial community. You can follow him on Twitter @bobodtech.

Leveraging more than 10 years of award-winning, professional radio experience, TECHnalysis Research participates in a video-based podcast called Everything Technology.
  Research Offerings
TECHnalysis Research offers a wide range of research deliverables that you can read about here.