Intel released its Xeon Skylake processor family on Tuesday
, and along with the announcement come the now-common claims about how Intel is struggling against growing competition and how it’s late to the artificial intelligence party. Much like with claims about Apple’s impending demise, I would argue that doom is in the eye of the beholder. Profits and market share might slip—maybe temporarily, maybe permanently—but there is still a whole lot of money to be made.
There are a lot of reasons for this, some of which, with regard to AI, I’ve laid out here before. But the boiled down version is that we’re still very early in terms of AI adoption and applications. Even if Nvidia forever owns the training of AI models on its GPUs, Intel has plenty of space to operate in cars, industrial devices, wearables and everyplace else that experts predict we will see embedded chips specialized for AI tasks. Of course, Intel is also investing heavily in its own AI and high-performance architectures, and isn’t ready to cede those spaces to Nvidia just yet.
Here are a handful of previous newsletter posts on this topic:
It’s also worth noting that SaaS services and other applications that utilize AI algorithms will run, as well as big-data processing workloads, will likely continue to run on data center CPUs for the foreseeable future. AI is through-the-roof hot right now, but AI workloads that presently benefit from
(but don’t technically require) GPUs are only a blip on the radar of total data center workloads.
Cloud computing is only growing, too, and cloud providers including AWS, Google and DigitalOcean have all publicly announced the availability of the new Intel processors on their clouds. There’s really no doubt that other cloud providers will also offer them in due time, if they’re not already. Selling at mega-scale to cloud providers is a lower-margin business for Intel than selling servers to every company under the sun, but it’s a big business that is not going away.
For more details on Intel’s new chips (which it claims offer 1.6 times more performance than the previous generation) and more takes on Intel’s business, check out the following items. And please try not to shed too many tears (at least not just yet) for the company currently ranked No. 47 on the Fortune 500:
One other quick note …
not previously a company I knew much about, but I knew of DataGravity because its co-founder and CEO Paula Long (who also co-founded EqualLogic back in the day) was a veteran of multiple Structure conferences, as well as the old podcast that Barb Darrow and I did at Gigaom
. DataGravity’s software scours enterprise data stores, identifying potentially sensitive information and analyzing user behavior (e.g., who’s accessing it).
I spoke with HyTrust co-founder and president Eric Chiu, who did a good job explaining the value of DataGravity’s technology (which HyTrust intends to keep selling) in terms of recent and future data privacy laws that many countries are enacting. Essentially, he said, companies need to know where user data is being stored so that (a) it doesn’t cross borders and (b) they can delete it if required to do so. The problem isn’t just that cloud platforms are often distributed globally and somewhat abstracted, but also that employees will often share data and use data in ways that might open their companies up to risk. So they need to be able to track it down wherever it now resides.
Whether or not you’re interested in this acquisition, the topic of data privacy should be on everybody’s mind right now. Yes, it’s an issue that raises lots of thorny ethical questions, but it’s also an issue that is could have a major influence over the business of buying cloud resources in Europe, China and elsewhere.