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Intel Wants Partners To Benefit Across Its Six Innovation Pillars

‘In every single one of those phases, we‘ll make advancements across all these six pillars. We will communicate it consistently, so that our partners can take the vision, add value on top of it and create revenue and opportunity,’ Intel sales exec Greg Ernst says of the chipmaker’s new three-phase plan for channel partners.

Intel is devising new ways to ensure channel partners are benefiting from the chipmaker’s six pillars of innovation strategy that is pushing new advancements across the PC, data center and IoT markets.

In an interview with CRN, Greg Ernst, vice president of the Sales and Marketing Group and general manager of U.S. sales at Intel, said the company has created a three-phase plan for how the company will engage partners and help them make money with new products and technologies through 2022.

[Related: How Intel Is Making Optane Memory Easier For Partners To Sell]

The move, which was disclosed to partners at last week’s virtual Intel Partner Connect, is part of a new “one Intel” approach that top Intel sales executive Michelle Johnston Holthaus said will help partners more closely align with the chipmaker’s product road map and marketing plans.

“What we did in August was we really sat down, we looked at these six pillars,” Ernst said, “and we said, ‘how do we structure the advancements that we‘re going to make the next 24 months into three phases,’ so one, we can communicate well with our partners, but then two, we tell a consistent story to our mutual customers.”

Intel introduced its six pillars of innovation strategy at Intel Architecture Day in 2018, and it consists of the main areas of focus for Intel’s research and development efforts: process and packaging technologies, architecture, memory, interconnect, security and software.

“All of them need to be advanced in parallel,” Ernst said. “It‘s an incredible ambitious undertaking that we do at Intel, but we do it first foremost and always with our partners, and none of this can be done by ourselves. Nothing we do could be brought to market without the partner network.”

The first phase of the three-phase plan started in September with Intel’s Tiger Lake laptop processors and will continue with the launch of Intel oneAPI — a new programming model that will make it easier for developers to take advantage of Intel’s diverse portfolio of chip architectures — and Ice Lake server processors through the beginning of next year. While oneAPI 1.0 is coming out by the end of the year, Intel said last week that it has pushed volume shipments of Ice Lake to the first quarter of 2021.

“In every single one of those phases, we‘ll make advancements across all these six pillars,” Ernst said. “We will communicate it consistently, so that our partners can take the vision, add value on top of it and create revenue and opportunity.”

With Tiger Lake, Ernst said, Intel brought new innovations to the processor family through the company’s new 10-nanometer SuperFin process technology, the Willow Cove CPU and Xe GPU architectures, a new memory subsystem, PCIe 4.0 connectivity, Intel Hardware Shield and other new security features as well as new AI capabilities for software.

With Ice Lake, the next generation of Intel’s Xeon Scalable processors, Intel will continue to advance innovations across its six pillars in servers, according to Ernst. Some of these advancements have already been disclosed such as Intel Software Guard Extensions and Total Memory Encryption for security.

As part of the Ice Lake launch, Intel will expand its own line of motherboards and servers to make it easier for partners to package and sell new technologies like Intel Optane Persistent Memory, according to Ernst. Intel is also working with ODM partners like Supermicro on this initiative.

“Partners will be able to snap into it and sell,” Ernst said, which means that partners won’t have to spend as much time validating new hardware.

Ernst sad Intel will offer these server systems at a level nine integration, which means that partners will be able to add in their own technologies and sell it as their own.

“It‘s a conscious decision. I want the partners to be able to add IP and value on top of it versus just selling the systems that we make,” he said.

As for oneAPI, Ernst said the new programming model and platform represents “the most audacious software undertaking that Intel has done in decades.”

“We‘ve created a unified set of tools and APIs, so that programmers can write their code and compile it across that cross-processor architecture,” Ernst said, referring to Intel’s heterogeneous processor portfolio that consists of CPUs, FPGAs, AI accelerators and soon discrete GPUs.

While oneAPI is designed to help developers optimize applications on different processors and determine which processors are best suited for different workloads, it will benefit Intel’s broader channel of partners by making it easier for them to move beyond just the CPU and expand into new chip architectures to fulfill customer needs for next-generation workloads.

“Whether it‘s an FPGA, an GPU, an AI accelerator, a CPU, the partners are able to optimize the hardware configuration for the software and not spend money or add to the [bill of materials] if it’s not necessary,” Ernst said.

Ernst said the second and third phase of the three-phase plan will take place in 2021 and 2021, respectively. Intel has previously disclosed that it plans to launch new discrete Xe GPUs for high-performance servers and PCs as well as multiple new CPU families next year.

“By breaking it down into phases for my sales organization, our marketing, our partners, we can consistently walk customers through the evolution and the advances that we‘re making,” he said.

Kent Tibbils, vice president of marketing at ASI, a Fremont, Calif.-based Intel distributor, said the new three-phase approach Intel is taking with partners will help them improve the strategic planning and guidance they can provide customers, especially in the server space.

“Being able to explain to resellers that vision of where the road map is headed, what types of technologies are going to be included in their long term, I think that benefits and helps make sure that the entire ecosystem has confidence in where the products are headed and what the future pieces are going to be and how they can all take advantage of it,” he said.

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