Intel Announces AI, 5G and Edge Computing Initiatives at CES

At a news conference Monday afternoon at CES in Las Vegas, Nev., Intel announced several artificial intelligence (AI), 5G and edge computing-related initiatives coming in the new year.

The press conference (video here) started with Gregory Bryant, senior vice president and general manager of Intel's Client Computing Group, talking about the evolution of Intel from a PC-centric company to one focusing on AI, datacenters, autonomous driving and more. He then announced six new desktop processors, from Core i3 to Core i9 within the their ninth-generation release, and said that this line will also come to mobile in Q2 of this year.

He then announced a "highly integrated" system on a chip (SOC) for clients codenamed "Ice Lake" with a planned release of "holiday 2019." According to Bryant, Ice Lake's 10 nm CPU will be able to offer top-level performance and processing for AI and other programs because the SOC uses a new microarchitecture, comes with Thunderbolt 3-native integration, and offers Wi-Fi 6 and Gen 11-integrated graphics, giving it "a huge lift in performance." There's also specific code designed to specifically boost machine learning processing, he said. Dell is one of the manufacturers that Intel will be working with on releasing Ice Lake-powered machines.

Bryant also announced "Lakefield," a hybrid CPU system allowing customers to mix and match cores within a product, depending on its intended use, via board sizes smaller than previously available.

Intel's Datacenter Group Executive Vice President Navin Shenoy then took the stage. He started his talk focusing on the 20 years of the Xeon processor and the newest version, codenamed "Cascade Lake," which was detailed in November 2018 and which Shenoy said started shipping toward the end of 2018. Cascade Lake offers Intel Deep Running Boost to support AI-focused workloads and offer significant processing speed boosts, and the architecture itself can support up to 48 cores for very large projects. (Later in the presentation he also announced that the next-generation 10 nm Ice Lake microarchitecture for the datacenter will be coming sometime in 2020.)

Shenoy then announced Nervana, a new line of chips designed for processing AI inference workloads (versus training workloads, he explained). Shenoy said the chips -- designed in partnership with Facebook -- are coming "in the second half" of this year, offer power optimization features and are optimized for use cases like image classification and recognition, he explained. More details on the chips have yet to be published on Intel's Web site.

From there, Shenoy reviewed Intel's "end-to-end" strategy for 5G, "from the edge to the device, back to the core and of course to the datacenter."

"There are new use cases that 5G will enable that require computing to move closer to the user," he commented. "No one is positioned better than Intel to take advantage of these opportunities."

The company has previously announced plans to release a 5G modem this year. Shenoy said that Intel will be focusing in 2019 on bringing 5G into the network to help support "latency-sensitive" projects like autonomous driving, remote surgery and industrial IoT by moving processing much closer to the edge. The new 10 nm SOC product that will support this will be codenamed "Snow Ridge" and is being designed "specifically for 5G wireless access," Shenoy said, helping to bring Intel into the wireless base station (as found on cell phone towers) market.

More information about Snow Ridge and a demo can be found in the linked video above at around the 40-minute mark.

About the Author

Becky Nagel is the vice president of Web & Digital Strategy for 1105's Converge360 Group, where she oversees the front-end Web team and deals with all aspects of digital projects at the company, including launching and running the group's popular virtual summit and Coffee talk series . She an experienced tech journalist (20 years), and before her current position, was the editorial director of the group's sites. A few years ago she gave a talk at a leading technical publishers conference about how changes in Web browser technology would impact online advertising for publishers. Follow her on twitter @beckynagel.