Thursday, January 10, 2019
Intel uncorked a small geyser of news at the Consumer Electronics Show, including word of the company’s first volume 10nm PC processor — which will be called Ice Lake — discussion of a new hybrid CPU architecture that combines different types of CPU cores in a single system on a chip (SOC) and the introduction of a new chip aimed at inference-based AI applications.
Intel also announced a new chip designed specifically to perform edge computing duties inside 5G base stations and introduced six new members of its 9th Gen iCore processor family. The company also disclosed a collaboration with Comcast to develop a 10 Gbps cable modem and a new effort to expand the PC market called Project Athena.
The announcements, voluminous in number yet light in detail (necessarily so, given time constraints), were interspersed with commentary designed to bolster the perception of Intel’s ongoing relevance, which probably says more about Wall Street than it does about Intel. Interim CEO Bob Swan did not take the CES stage.
Company representatives explained Intel has, over the years, redefined its focus from PC-centric to data-centric, and the data market (encompassing client devices, data centers, AI, edge computing and more) is an opportunity of roughly $300 billion, a number mentioned on stage at least thrice and in associated press releases many more times. One Intel exec casually noted that the $300 billion data market is the biggest target opportunity in Intel history.
Data-centric or not, company representatives referred multiple times on stage to research that indicates that people still heavily prefer to use PCs for those tasks that are important to them, tasks on which they intend to focus, a word carefully chosen and pointedly repeated, presumably to establish differentiation from, for example, vegging out watching TV, films or video. The PC market is not dead yet, and the company aims to prove it can be reinvigorated with its proposed Project Athena.
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