Moore’s Law will continue says Intel boss Brian Krzanich, as he outlines post PC strategy going forward
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich has outlined his strategy for the chip giant in the years ahead, as it struggles to move away from its dependence on the moribund PC market.
Earlier this month the company announced it would shed about 12,000 jobs – about 11 percent of its workforce worldwide – as it accelerates that transition away from the PC arena where it made its name (and indeed fortune).
Krzanich’s comments come after he recently admitted that some Intel staff were “pushing back” against management’s efforts to increase the diversity of its workforce.
It is amid this backdrop of uncertainty that Krzanich issued his vision for the company, with something of a pep talk for its beleaguered staff – most notably the insistence that Moore’s Law will still be relevant in the years ahead.
Krzanich took over the helm of Intel back in 2013, and in the past has been frank about the failings of the computing giant, most notably in the mobile sector. But now he explained that his vision for the company centres around five “core beliefs”.
His first belief is that Intel’s reliance on the PC market is well and truly over, and the cloud is where Intel will be competing.
Krzanich admitted that nowadays “the cloud is the most important trend shaping the future of the smart, connected world – and thus Intel’s future.”
“We will drive more and more of the footprint of the data centre to Intel architecture. 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.”
Krzanich’s second core belief centres around the Internet of Things, of which PCs and the cloud are a vital component.
“The Internet of Things encompasses all smart devices – every device, sensor, console and any other client device – that are connected to the cloud. 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’s third strategy concerns memory and programmable solutions such as FPGAs (Field Programmable Gate Arrays), which he believes will deliver entirely new classes of products for the data centre and the Internet of Things.
“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 we will bring to production soon.”
His fourth key tenet has to do with connectivity, mostly notable 5G, which Krzanich says will become the key technology for access to the cloud in the always-connected world.
But Krzanich saved the bulk of his vision for a defence of Moore’s Law, amid concern that its limit may be fast approaching.
Moore’s Law refers to the observation made by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore in 1965 which noted that as the number of components in integrated circuits was doubling every 12 months or so, each generation will bring with it double the number of transistors. But for years now experts have been concerned that the computational capability at our disposal is increasingly limited by power requirements and the constraints on the ability to dissipate heat.
These concerns were highlighted in March this year, when Intel quietly changed its microprocessor development strategy. It retired its two-phase “tick-tock” (year-by-year) development model, which it has been using since 2007, and replaced it with a three-phase chip development methodology known as ‘Process, Architecture, Optimization’.
But Krzanich dismissed these concerns about Moore’s Law and used the subject as his fifth key strategy. He insisted that Moore’s Law will continue to progress and Intel will continue to lead in delivering its true economic impact.
“Fifth is Moore’s Law. Moore’s Law is fundamentally a law of economics, and Intel will confidently continue to harness its value,” he said. “In my 34 years in the semiconductor industry, I have witnessed the advertised death of Moore’s Law no less than four times. As we progress from 14 nanometer technology to 10 nanometer and plan for 7 nanometer and 5 nanometer and even beyond, our plans are proof that Moore’s Law is alive and well.
“Putting it all together, Intel is uniquely positioned to power the cloud and drive the increasingly smart, connected world,” said Krzanich. “We see tremendous opportunity in the growth of this virtuous cycle – the cloud and data centre, the Internet of Things, memory and FPGAs all bound together by connectivity and enhanced by the economics of Moore’s Law – which will provide a strong and dynamic future for Intel.”
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