Intel debuted a slew of new chips and software to attract developers to its technologies and support more types of workloads.
Chief among the updates released during the annual Intel Innovation conference on Tuesday is the Intel Developer Cloud, which will make future hardware platforms available for pre-launch development and testing.
Starting in a limited beta trial, Developer Cloud provides access to Intel products from a few months up to a full year ahead of product availability, including the company's fourth-generation Xeon Scalable processors -- code-named Sapphire Rapids -- as well as its line of Data Center GPUs.
"Intel hasn't always been as savvy as Nvidia about building a developer ecosystem," said Dan Newman, founding partner and principal analyst at Futurum Research and CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. "Intel needed to open its arms to the developer community and create a preference for Intel tools."
Also notable was the release of Intel Unison software, which makes Windows desktop systems compatible with both Android and iOS phones. The cross-device compatibility software lets end users do things like send and receive text messages from their Windows PCs rather than requiring them to switch devices.
Based on the technology of Screenovate, acquired by Intel late last year, Unison will roll out to the market on 12th Gen Intel Core processor-based Intel Evo designs from Acer, HP and Lenovo later this year.
Improvements to the Intel Developer Cloud underscore the company's renewed focus on developers and their needs, as does the new Intel Unison platform, said Charles King, president and principal analyst at Pund-IT Inc. Intel Unison simplifies the connection of endpoint devices regardless of the underlying OS, thus supporting several valuable features and services.
"To my mind, the company's decision to discontinue the Intel Developer Forum in 2017 never made practical or strategic sense, and the move looked increasingly wrongheaded in the years since then as developers and developer communities became increasingly important," King said.
Intel's support for developers is emblematic of the company's newfound energy and vision under CEO Pat Gelsinger, King added.
The company also debuted its 13th Gen Intel Core desktop processors, including the flagship i9-13900K. The new series provides 15% faster single-threaded performance and 41% faster multi-threaded performance than the previous generation, Intel said.
The new processors' performance improvements work with existing Intel 600 or new Intel 700 series chipset motherboards.
Intel's GPU play
Intel considers GPUs an important area of growth for the company. As such, it updated its line with new server blades containing Intel's Data Center GPU -- code-named Ponte Vecchio -- which will be shipped shortly to the Argonne National Laboratory to fuel its Aurora supercomputer.
The company's aggressive push into the GPU market against AMD and Nvidia was also evident in the release of Intel Arc GPUs. The Arc A770 GPU provides 1440p gaming performance, with pricing starting at $329.
"If Arc chips deliver as Intel described, they and the company's focus on endpoints integrated for maximum performance and affordability could make the options for gamers a lot more interesting than they have been for some time," King said.
Similarly, the new Intel Geti chips for AI-enabled computer vision show that Intel isn't willing to cede technical markets to well-entrenched competitors, King added.
The Geti platform, formerly Sonoma Creek, lets anyone in the enterprise develop AI models through a single interface for data upload, annotation, model training and retraining. Intel said Geti reduces the time, AI expertise and cost needed to develop models. It provides built-in optimizations for OpenVINO to deploy computer vision AI, the company said.
Intel also introduced the Data Center GPU Flex Series to support a range of visual cloud workloads and the popular AI and deep learning frameworks OpenVINO, TensorFlow and PyTorch.
Dan NewmanFounding partner and principal analyst, Futurum Research
Intel's latest GPUs give IT buyers another option at lower price points and put the company in a better competitive position.
"This is the first time they've been able to deliver a product that competes on both performance and price," Newman said. "They can now be on the offensive rather than the defensive [with GPU products]."
Taken together, Intel's moves to expand the Developer Cloud, build tech that democratizes AI, add more use cases for AI chips, and let a new class of developer use the hardware could help the company win over more developers and enterprise IT pros, Newman added.
Intel forms UCIe consortium
The company also detailed plans to serve as a systems foundry, combining wafer manufacturing, packaging, software and the chiplet ecosystem.
Leaders from Samsung and TSMC joined Gelsinger in his keynote to support the Universal Chiplet Interconnect Express (UCIe) consortium, which aims to create an open ecosystem for chiplets designed and manufactured on different process technologies by different vendors to work together when integrated with packaging technologies. The three largest chipmakers and more than 80 companies in the semiconductor industry joined UCIe, according to Intel.
Intel also previewed a pluggable co-package photonics system. Optical connections could improve chip-to-chip bandwidth, but manufacturing costs make it an expensive option. Intel researchers created a "high-yielding, glass-based solution with a pluggable connector that simplifies manufacturing and lowers costs," which the company claims could open possibilities for new system and chip package architectures in the future.
To finance the effort, Intel launched the $1 billion Intel Foundry Services Innovation Fund to support companies building technologies for the foundry ecosystem. The first round of companies receiving funding includes Astera, a data and memory connectivity software provider; Movellus, which helps improve system-on-chip performance and power consumption; and SiFive, which develops high-performance cores based on the open-source RISC-V instruction set architecture.
The 13th Gen Intel Core desktop K processors will be available starting Oct. 20, including boxed processors, motherboards and desktops. Additional details on other 13th Gen Intel Core processors were not available.
Unison will be available in additional Intel Evo designs early next year with 13th Gen Intel Core devices, the company said.