Intel’s Bryant: Chip Maker Expanding Reach in Data Center

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2013-07-03 Print this article Print

ARM officials have argued that there is a strong ecosystem around the company's chip architecture, from the partners who sell chips based on the designs to the Linux distribution vendors and open-source software makers that offer software for the architecture.

With the new demands for bandwidth, processing power, energy efficiency and storage in the data center, Intel officials also are looking beyond simply creating chips for servers. The company also wants to be the power behind storage and networking systems, the latter of which represents an important growth area, Bryant said. While Intel chips are found in about 93 percent of all servers, they're in only about 10 percent of network switches and routers.

Most of the silicon in those systems is still proprietary, but the introduction of software-defined networking (SDN) is creating a "growth catalyst" for the conversion of these systems to Intel Architecture, Bryant said. In April, Intel officials outlined the company's strategy around networking, SDN and network function virtualization (NFV), including introducing "Sea Cliff Trail," a reference design for an Intel-powered open switch platform. "Sunrise Trail" is a server reference design for use in SDN deployments.

Those reference designs reflect Intel's efforts to move beyond simply building chips for systems and becoming a larger player in the data center fabric space. Another example was Intel's release in February of its own Hadoop distribution for big data environments. The Intel Hadoop offering has been used by several companies in China, including carrier China Mobile and traffic management company Bocom.

Bryant said Intel released the Hadoop distribution to make it easier and less costly for organizations to adopt big data technologies.

"Right now, [big data] is pretty complex and a lot of big data projects are expensive," she said. "Our job is to make technology less expensive and complex so people will deploy it."

Intel also is looking to leverage its massive manufacturing capabilities to grow its custom chip capabilities. The vendor created its Custom Foundry business about three years ago, enabling the company to leverage Intel Architecture IP blocks to create chips for third parties. It's a business that Intel is looking to grow, Bryant said.

Right now, the company can create chips that offer "incremental" customization through such means as adjusting the number of cores and frequency, she said. However, "our goal is to get to the point where we can offer full customization," Bryant said.



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