Intel Spins Off Enterprise GenAI Software Firm With Investor Support

The semiconductor giant says Articul8’s ‘full-stack, vertically-optimized and secure generative artificial intelligence platform’ will run on chips from Intel and rivals. In addition to helping fund CEO Pat Gelsinger’s comeback plan, the move could help Intel compete with Nvidia.

Intel said it has formed an independent company focused on selling enterprise generative AI software it developed in house with an emphasis on security, speed and cost-efficiency.

The company, called Articul8, will offer enterprise customers a “full-stack, vertically-optimized and secure generative artificial intelligence platform,” which has been optimized to run on Intel’s Xeon CPUs and Gaudi accelerators but will also run on competitors’ chips, according to an announcement made by the semiconductor giant on Wednesday.

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The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chipmaker said Articul8’s CEO is Arun Subramaniyan (pictured above), who was previously a vice president and general manager within Intel’s Data Center and AI Group. Prior to joining Intel in 2022, Subramaniyan was head of machine learning, quantum computing and high-performance computing solutions at Amazon Web Services.

Intel created the company in partnership with investment firm DigitalBridge Ventures, which is Articul8’s lead investor. The company has also received investments from Intel itself as well as several venture capital firms, including Fin Capital and Mindset Ventures.

Intel described Articul8’s software platform as a “turnkey” solution for large businesses who want to build large-scale AI applications for commercial purposes. The chipmaker added that the platform will help customers deploy AI software fast and securely while cutting down on the high costs typically associated with running generative AI infrastructure.

Articul8’s platform addresses security concerns by keeping data, training and inference within an enterprise’s security perimeter while giving each customer the choice to run the software on cloud, on-premises or hybrid infrastructure, according to Intel.

The chipmaker began developing what would become Articul8’s software platform at least two years ago, and it has worked with the Boston Consulting Group to sell the platform.

So far, Articul8’s software has been adopted by an unknown number of companies in the financial services, aerospace, semiconductors and telecommunications industries.

Rich Lesser, global chair of Boston Consulting Group, validated Intel’s claim that Articul8 is a fast way for enterprises to deliver AI solutions.

"GenAI is at the forefront of our clients' business strategy and needs. Our collaboration began nearly two years ago while the venture was still in the incubation stage at Intel. Since then, we have deployed Articul8 products for multiple clients seeking production-ready platforms with rapid time to market," he said in a statement.

How Articul8 Helps With Intel’s Comeback Plan

The creation of Articul8 marks Intel’s second spin-off this year, and the two moves are part of a larger plan by Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger to turn around the company after falling behind rival chipmakers in key capabilities and losing market share for several years.

Nearly three months before announcing the creation of Articul8, Intel said it would spin off its Programmable Solutions Group (PSG) into a standalone business at the beginning of 2024 and eventually conduct an initial public offering for the firm.

While Intel plans to remain a majority shareholder in the PSG business, the company previously said it expects to seek private investments for the group, which sells field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) to customers with programmable chip needs.

The PSG and Articul8 spin-off plans are part of a strategy by Intel to raise capital for Gelsinger’s comeback plan, which involves a large build-out of new chip factories in the United States and Europe as well as the introduction of five advanced manufacturing nodes in four years. The goal of Gelsinger’s plan is to surpass Asian contract chip manufacturing giants TSMC and Samsung Electronics in process performance by 2025.

Prior to announcing the PSG and Articul8 plans, Intel decided to spin off its Mobileye automotive business through an IPO in 2021 and sold minority stakes in its IMS Nanofabrication business to private equity firm Bain Capital and TSMC last year.

On top of helping Intel raise capital for Gelsinger’s turnaround plan, the creation of Articul8 could help Intel compete against Nvidia in the fast-growing AI computing market by giving customers an alternative software platform that has been optimized on Intel’s chips.

Articul8’s ability to work with chips made by Intel’s rivals could also help the semiconductor giant deliver on its promise to be an open alternative to Nvidia, whose core software offerings, including Nvidia AI Enterprise, only works on chips made by the GPU designer.

The spin-off will also give Intel a key ally in the ISV space, where many have been historically aligned with Nvidia due to its dominance in AI computing.

“With its deep AI and HPC domain knowledge and enterprise-grade GenAI deployments, Articul8 is well positioned to deliver tangible business outcomes for Intel and our broader ecosystem of customers and partners. As Intel accelerates AI everywhere, we look forward to our continued collaboration with Articul8,” Gelsinger said in a statement.

The development of Articul8’s platform was part of Intel’s “software-first” strategy, championed by Gelsinger, to develop new software products and services that aim to make the chipmaker the silicon platform of choice for a vast array of applications, as outlined in the October 2021 cover story for CRN magazine.