Need for Performance
On the other side of this is the insatiable need for more and better high-performance computing. The power, bandwidth and storage numbers get mind-boggling in the supercomputing sector, with large enterprises, scientific labs, government agencies and other sectors clamoring for more and more processing power. The demand never slows down. Intel, however, isn't fazed by all this demand.Where there once were specialized chips doing random kinds of jobs, Intel plans to go there with its mainstream products. Its Xeon-class MIC processors, called the Intel Knights, are the frontline products in this initiative. Kirk Skaugen, a 19-year Intel veteran (left)who has been whispered about as a possible future CEO, is the point man for a great deal of this future planning. His title is vice president of Intel's Architecture Group and general manager of the Data Center Group. This takes in quite a chunk of the company, including servers, storage, networking, switching, routing, telecom infrastructure and embedded systems. "About two years ago, we combined wired and networking, servers and storage, which had all been three divisions," Skaugen told eWEEK. "The piece that hadn't been integrated was switching and routing, as well as communications infrastructure for the telcos. The same similarities of moving to standard Xeon hardware that happened in servers are happening in storage, as well as in the control plane of switching and routing." In the future, the integration of new Xeon processors will replace all the old chips. That's also happening in communications infrastructure. "So, there are many similarities of old RISC processors that are moving over to Xeon for the economies, performance and everything that we've put together," Skaugen said. Incremental to that, Intel also added the burgeoning embedded processor business, he added. "We have three pillars for [selling chips into] the cloud in our 2015 vision: the federated cloud, the automated cloud and the client-aware cloud," he said. "When we're going to connect 15 billion devices to the Internet by 2015 and Ericsson is saying 50 billion devices by 2020, it's important for us to know that whole connection." What Intel means by client awareness, Skaugen said, "is that when you detect a device at the end of a service, our belief is that you want to optimize the end-user experience, but you also want to optimize the cost of the service and the infrastructure it takes to deliver that service. "Where do you determine that client awareness?" he asked. "Does it happen at the bottom of a base station? Does it happen at the edge of the data center in a switch? Does it happen in the server? We now have a play across the data center to the device." This all fits into Intel's automation pillar because the company already knows what kind of graphics are on the end of a client. "We can automate what type of server you can move a service to in the data center," he said. Intel chips are being used in a solid 70 percent of the storage controller market, and that number is moving closer to 80 percent, according to Skaugen. "That's commensurate with where we're at in servers," he said. "And our business with the top 10 networking companies is up 60 percent in the last 18 months. We've ported literally hundreds of applications from Sparc to IA [Intel architecture] over the last five years in the telecom industry. All of that new business is basically Xeon. "I think the telecommunications industry now has the confidence that Xeon is a mission-critical architecture and can move some of their internal workloads, not just the packaged apps. We're seeing a pretty big windfall of SPARC and Power conversion coming over to Xeon and, to certain extent, Itanium."
The company wants to power all these to-come connections with new-generation, multi-integrated core (MIC) chips at every level: processors that will run all types of automated and human-driven devices from the creation of content to routers, to modems, to data centers, through processing and, finally, to storage. We're talking about all types of creational and networking devices, including sensors, videocams, scientific instruments-the whole gamut of IT.