Today at an annual meeting for investors, Intel executives discussed the company's strategy, key investments and top priorities for 2017.
Krzanich called data "the most important force in technology." He said he expects Intel to "play a vital role in transitioning this data into practical and important tools to drive business and innovation."
Diane Bryant, who leads Intel's data center business, said the continued rise of cloud computing and network transformation, and the growth of data analytics were the key growth drivers for Intel's data center business. She explained how Intel was well-positioned for long-term growth thanks to "an unparalleled array of assets" that includes an exciting portfolio of adjacency products, including silicon photonics, Intel Omni-path fabric, FPGAs and a broad portfolio of solutions for artificial intelligence.
Bryant said that the "data center gets new nodes first". But rather than use a multi-chip package as in previous multi-core products, Intel will be using EMIB as demonstrated at ISSCC: an MCP/2.5D interposer-like design with an Embedded Multi-Die Interconnect Bridge (EMIB). The benefit of using multiple smaller dies over a large monolithic 600mm2 die is typically related to cost and yield, however the EMIB technology also has to be up to par and there may be a latency or compatibility trade-off.
Memory: Whether on the device or in the cloud, capturing, analyzing and operationalizing more and more data will require bigger memory and faster storage. Rob Crooke, who leads Intel's memory business, explained the advantages of Intel's 3D NAND SSDs and Intel Optane technologies, which have strong connections to Intel's core platforms in a fast-growing market segment that the company has participated in since its inception.
Crooke said Intel was already working on its first three generations of its Optane technology, and it's apparently shipping to data center customers. But there was no word on pricing for PC customers.
Kraznich, previously spoke glowingly of Optane's desktop future. "Every single gamer is going to want 3D Xpoint," the technology underlying Optane, he said. "Every single gamer."
Intel is readying new SSDs based on its new 3D XPoint non-volatile memory. The company developed this technology in collaboration with Micron Technology. The first Intel SSDs with this memory will be sold under the Optane brand. There are several sub-brands targeting the various market segments (client, enterprise, data-center, etc.), and technical slides of the data-center targeted Optane DC P4800X SSD have already leaked to the web.
According to rumors, one of the first Optane DC P4800X SSDs comes in a capacity of 375 GB. The drive is built in the half-height PCI-Express add-on card (AIC) form-factor, with PCI-Express 3.0 x4 host interface. The drive belts out sequential transfer rates of up to 2400 MB/s reads, with up to 2000 MB/s writes, which may not sound like much given that even TLC NAND flash based PCIe 3.0 x4 drives offer higher transfer rates. However, the drive offers over 21 times the endurance of comparable enterprise SSDs based on high-endurance MLC NAND flash; with a staggering 30 drive-writes per day (DWPD); and 12.3 petabytes (12,300 TB) total bytes written (TBW) rating. The random-access performance of the drive is also higher than competing MLC NAND flash based drives, with up to 550,000 IOPS 4K random reads, and up to 500,000 IOPS 4K random writes.
The Internet of Things: Intel expects growth in its IOT business will outpace the market as the company focuses on vertical segments with multibillion-dollar market potential, including retail, industrial, video and transportation. Doug Davis, who heads Intel's Automated Driving Group, described fully-autonomous cars of the future as "data centers on wheels," explaining that their complexity and computing power will require multiple high-end Xeons, high-performance FPGAs, memory, high-bandwidth connectivity and more.
Intel's manufacturing capability is another important investment area. Murthy Renduchintala, who leads Intel's client, IoT and systems architecture groups, told investors that Moore's Law is alive and well at Intel. "We currently enjoy a three year lead over our competitors' current process technology generations," he said. "If the trajectories hold, we will continue to maintain a three year lead in process technology, even after our competitors deliver on their 10-nanometer plan."
New manufacturing process nodes are only part of the story. Renduchintala explained how Intel optimizes its manufacturing process within each technology generation to deliver performance gains with new products on an annual cadence.
Ashraf Eassa said that Intel's 8th Generation Core microarchitecture will remain on the 14nm node. Based on the 14 nm "Cannon Lake" silicon, these processors are expected to have a bigger performance gain over the preceding 7th gen Core "Kaby Lake" micro-architecture, than Kaby Lake had over its predecessor, the 6th gen Core "Skylake."
Intel illustrated how Kaby Lake processors are on average 15 percent faster than Skylake parts, in SYSmark.