How Intel is likely to take advantage of its $7.68bn security acquisition - and where the pitfalls might be
Following the news that Intel is to buy security software maker McAfee for $7.68bn, analysts and industry watchers have been busy trying to work out the chip maker's strategy.
In McAfee, Intel is acquiring a company that makes and sells antivirus, encryption, firewalls and email security for home and business use - and which has itself acquired mobile security companies Trust Digital and TenCube in recent months.
Below, analysts run through the possible opportunities - and potential complications - of the Intel-McAfee deal.
Intel and McAfee: Building more security onto chips
The most obvious benefit that Intel gets from buying McAfee is the opportunity to tap its security know-how for its new products, perhaps preparing for a future when the security threats that are now mostly focused on PCs spread to a greater range of devices such as mobile phones and other consumer electronics. Clive Longbottom, service director at analysts Quocirca, told silicon.com he believes Intel may have made a sensible decision with the acquisition, with the development of security built into hardware likely to be an important future avenue of opportunity for the chipmaker.
Intel could bring McAfee's security functionality down to the level of silicon - as Intel chairman and CEO Paul Otellini has suggested the company does indeed intend to do - with new security technology built directly onto the chip, rather than running on an operating system.
"As we move into a more virtualised environment should every single image in that virtual environment have to have its own security built into it to cover the whole stack? Or should somebody be able to say 'Actually, what I want is a secure platform and then I can put all of these virtual images on top' - essentially sandboxing them and you don't have to bother about certain types of security because the platform will provide that?" Longbottom said.
Although Intel has already added some security to its chips with its vPro technology, Longbottom said there hasn't been a huge take-up due as users are cautious due to Intel's lack of security background. McAfee may provide the higher profile brand needed to drive uptake of chip-based security.
According to Gartner rsearch director Bob Walder, as well as wanting to improve its standing around security, Intel is seeking to exploit the R&D capability that McAfee can provide for its chips and sub-tablet devices.
However, he's less sure how Intel can incorporate security technology into the silicon of its chips. "How feasible this is - given that...