Intel dives deeper into Internet-of-Things with customizable chips

Intel dives deeper into Internet-of-Things with customizable chips

Summary: Intel's general manager for datacenters explains how the chipmaker plans to crunch boatloads of data spewing from sensors to smartwatches.


Change isn't easy for anyone, even within the tech industry where the demand for and expectation of innovation is constant.

Speaking at Gigaom Structure 2014 in San Francisco on Wednesday, Diane Bryant, general manager of Intel's datacenter group, acknowledged that transformations can either be threatening and disruptive or seen as an opportunity.

Bryant assured that Intel sees the shifts in IT toward a digital services economy as an opportunity.

Intel has been busy tapping into the Internet-of-Things movement this year to make good on that opportunity.

One of the projects in the pipeline is a new product line mentioned by Bryant during the fireside chat, which consists of adapting its Xeon processor family and merging them with field-programmable gate array (FPGA) technology.

The goal is to offer a new platform that is customizable for algorithms and applications as we enter the Internet-of-Things era.

Bryant highlighted scale as a key focus in this regard, aiming to serve telecommunications and cloud services providers that must address scaling issues on a routine basis.

"It will give the next big pop in efficiencies," Bryant said.

However, Bryant quickly backtracked on additional details, adding that she couldn't reveal how long Intel has been working on the project nor when it might ship.

She also lamented that she couldn't divulge customers lined up already either.

In response to questions about heated pressure in competing against the likes of ARM, among others, Bryant asserted the chip maker invests heavily in adding new product lines and architectures into its portfolio to ensure compute, storage, and performance workloads work best on Intel.

"I'm not naive to the fact that everyone would like a second source," Bryant admitted.

Topics: Big Data, Data Centers, Data Management, Intel, Processors

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  • FPGA Xeons

    So there will be FPGA's on chip? Or how will that work?
  • Binged

    Funny how the Bing team announced a couple of days ago that they're working on adding FPGA's to servers to help process data faster and now Intel announces Xeon's with FPGS's.

    This may well turn out to be quite interesting!
    • Very cool

      Yup, the winner will be the chip that will make it somewhat easy to program to do what you want it to do. Imagine something that makes SQL run better, faster, process more, just by telling the processor to be optimized for SQL.
      • FPGAs typically take on less complex tasks

        Processing SQL might be doable but I think given how complex database engines are this might not be something feasible. SQL processing involves more than just interpretting the commands but lots of IO and this complexity wouldn't likely fit within an FPGA (though parts of it could). Likely simpler primitives are intended.

        Typical application is just providing certain acceleration capabilities that are reconfigurable: Compression, decompression, security protocol, codecs, various encoding and decoding tasks or implementing a complex algorithm.

        Reconfiguration might be fairly infrequent.

        The idea is to off-load the CPU from frequent tasks that would be much faster if implemented in hardware.