Deep learning, the Internet of Things, and virtual reality. They were already some of the biggest themes of this year’s Computex, and during their keynote conference Intel continued to hammer home the importance of all three.
But perhaps the biggest element of the chip manufacturer’s keynote was the battlegrounds they outlined for the future, battlegrounds that further highlight the company’s transition away from just being a PC company.
The corporation spent much of its Computex keynote hyping up the exponential growth in the fields of artificial intelligence, deep learning, Internet of Things and virtual reality, bringing on several partners throughout to demo new and experimental technologies.
Some of those technologies included a live holographic broadcast; a multiplayer virtual reality experience involving the HP Omen X, a portable gaming PC moulded into the form of a backpack, as well as a similar offering from MSI; a live demonstration of a device running off an Intel Atom chip that plugs into your car’s dashboard and feeds back telematics to the cloud; and the Intel Aero platform for unmanned aerial vehicles and drones.
The CPU giant also unveiled a new gateway processor and Wi-Fi solution, the AnyWAN GRX 750 and the XWAY WAV500 Wi-Fi chip. It’s a unique home gateway solution, according to Navin Shenoy, general manager of Client Computing Group and a corporate vice president at Intel, because it provides service provides and telcos with a single unit that can support fibre, DSL, cable, and 4G/5G technologies in a single system on a chip (SoC).
Shenoy declared that over 1 billion home gateways would be sold over the next 3 years, a market that undoubtedly benefits Intel: the company purportedly is the number one provider of chips for cable gateways to homes, and the second largest provider of chips for DSL gateways.
Intel is positioning the new AnyWAN processor as a key device for further enabling local and cloud-based services, content sharing and media creation, a theme that was also a core part of the pitch for the new Core i7 Extreme Edition CPUs and the Intel Xeon E3-1500 v5 line.
Diane Bryant, executive vice president and general manager of Data Centre Group within Intel, told the audience that an estimated 72% of internet traffic was video. That figure was expected to grow to 80% in the next four years, posing a serious challenge for global internet infrastructure.
To help combat the increased processing needs, Intel is advertising the Xeon E3-1500 v5 family as a processor that can allow data centres to cope with graphic-intensive applications. The CPUs have varying versions of Intel’s onboard Iris Pro graphics, and Bryant announced that a single Xeon E3-1500 v5 chip could stream two 4K videos in real time, or 15x 1080p video streams simultaneously.
To demonstrate, start-up RivetVR came on stage and showcased a 360-degree live performance from Living Colour at New York’s Blue Note jazz club. The band inadvertently were in the middle of a break when the stream went through, but the content could be viewed on the desktop, a 2K screen, a 3K 2-in-one device or a VR headset.
Intel also showcased part of their strategy going forward when it came to deep learning by inviting Viscovery and QCT on stage, two companies that had combined and used Intel products to develop technology centered on making videos searchable through contextual information.
The context would centre around several criteria, including faces, objects and environments. That’s an interesting development and opens the door for many advancements that we’ll undoubtedly hear more about in years to come: advanced video search engines, contextual advertising and new forms of social networking.
But the striking remark came from Bryant when she said Intel’s collaboration with the companies allowed them to meet their needs with a CPU-only deep learning solution. NVIDIA has been highly touting their Tesla P100 offering to customers, including at their breakfast roundtable earlier in the week, and it seems inevitable that the two will become locked in a head-to-head battle as more industries seek to meet the computational needs deep learning requires.
Another core focus of the keynote was the movement from 4G to 5G. Foxconn’s Fang-Ming Lu, executive vice president and CEO of their cloud and network group, shared the stage with Bryant as the two announced a memorandum of understanding between the corporations over the development of infrastructure for the transition.
The two firms will jointly develop proof of concepts and pilot programs around the new technology, in the aim of accelerating and making networks more capable of handling the efficiency and data requirements expected in a 5G-world.
It’s partly out of necessity, too: around 50 billion devices are expected to have some form of internet connection by 2020, generating a substantial amount of data and workload for the networks and infrastructure that serves them. Shenoy quoted estimates at the beginning of the keynote saying that the average household had 10 internet connected devices today, and was expected to own around 50 in four years.
The author travelled to Computex 2016 as a guest of Intel.