By Megan Bozman

Intel has had to adapt to the decline of global shipments of desktops and laptops over the past five years. In April, the company announced it would eliminate 12,000 jobs, or 11 percent of its total workforce, within the coming year. CEO Brian Krzanich described the shifting strategy as one that will “transform our company from a PC company to a company that powers the cloud and billions of smart, connected computing devices.”

In a recent interview at the Bloomberg Technology Conference in San Francisco, Diane Bryant, Intel executive vice president and general manager of the Data Center Group, echoed those sentiments, stating that the company is transforming from a PC centric to one that, first fuels the cloud worldwide, and second, fuels all of those devices; not only PCs, tablets, and phones, but the billions of others devices.

Diane Bryant, Photo: Bloomberg Video
Diane Bryant, Photo: Bloomberg Video

Ms. Bryant described how growth will come from the billions of other devices. The first wave of compute came from enterprises and government, followed by consumer demand driven by the internet and mobile apps. “The third big wave that is going to drive compute is all the things – so connected cars, smart cities, and smart grids, and distributed health care, drones, and robots. It just goes on and on. You’re talking billions and billions of devices that will dwarf what we know today from a connected world.”

Connected devices grow then create new services which are deployed through a cloud computing environment, further attracting more devices in “a virtuous cycle.”

Financially, IoT platform product development is only a tiny fraction of the business, but it’s an important and growing part. As announced in April, the reduction in workforce is part of a shift in investments to the cloud and to increase scope among the broader IoT. As it is a highly diversified market, Intel plans to “very thoughtfully select the vertical segments we will invest in and make sure we win,” stated Ms. Bryant.

The Single Biggest Need for Computing Power

Bloomberg interviewer Max Chafkin asked what I admit I considered an odd question, “What is the single biggest source of need for computing? What is going to need the most computing power?”

The implications for computing power worldwide are extensive. That’s the very fabric of the concept of IoT = “Internet of Things.” How can one type of ‘thing’ be deemed more important than all the others? Indeed, our slogan here at Senseware is “Connect Everything.”

Ms. Bryant seemed to agree with my sentiments as she stated, “All of those data and compute intensive applications. Virtual reality, augmented reality, 360 and immersive environments, autonomous vehicles.” I would definitely consider that a broad range, clearly not “a single need.”

Attendees at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona wearing Samsung Gear VR headsets. (Photo: Facebook)
Attendees at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona wearing Samsung Gear VR headsets. (Photo: Facebook)

Ms. Bryan then shared the amount of compute and data required to support an autonomous vehicle. At 40 GB of data traffic, it dwarfs the quantity of data created daily by PCs and smartphones, with planes being higher yet. Connected factories, as part of Industrie 4.0, are in the petabyte range and dwarf planes yet again.

With such massive amounts of data, interest in machine learning rises, leading to demand to create learning machines that provides greater and greater insights.

Focus on Diversity, and Women in Machine Learning

Intel is also committed to growing diversity in the tech community and is investing $300M towards the goal that, by 2020, the diversity of Intel employees will match market representation. The initiatives include sponsoring mentoring, scholarships and internships. The emerging importance of machine learning aligns well with these goals, as the field could create more tech opportunities for women.

Machine learning doesn’t necessarily require the study of computer science, but can include fields such as physical science, biology, and math. Currently, there are greater numbers of women in the latter fields than comp-sci.

Machine Learning and Tech Humor

And finally, if you have not yet had the pleasure of reading Bored Elon Musk on Twitter, I assure of you some laughs. The Twitter account is a, “futuristic hyper-parody account comprised of thoughts and inventions from Elon in his downtime.”

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