Intel U.S. Channel Chief: Increasing Amounts Of Data Creating An ‘Almost Unlimited Demand For Compute’

It started with a dramatic presentation: A young man, increasingly losing his wits after a downed data center killed his smartphone connection, eventually resorts to life in the wild.

The message? Data can make or break you, whether as an individual or a business, and Intel aims to play a big role in taking advantage of the growing data opportunity. The fictional video came at the start of a keynote by Jason Kimrey, Intel's U.S. channel chief, at The Channel Company's XChange 2018 event on Monday.

"The more and more devices and things that come online and the more data that's created, it creates this almost unlimited demand for compute," Kimrey said.

[Related: Intel Says Next-Gen 10nm CPU Not Coming Until Holiday 2019]

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His message to solution providers at XChange 2018 was that Intel will continue to play an important role in taking advantage of the ever-growing stream of data being created in the cloud and at the edge. And while Intel's general-purpose CPUs continue to be key, Kimrey said, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based semiconductor giant now has a broader portfolio of products — from Optane memory to reprogrammable FPGAs — to address emerging workloads, including artificial intelligence.

"We can't simply rely on Moore's Law to be able to handle the data inflows that are happening," Kimrey said. "There's simply too much data coming online, and the CPU alone can't do it."

Nalit Patel, CEO of Livingston, N.J.-based All Solutions, told CRN that Kimrey "brought three realities in check" for solution providers. No. 1 is the unprecedented growth of data being created and collected.

"New things have to be adopted. If solution providers do not adapt to that and provide it to their customers, they're going to be replaced by somebody else," he said.

Patel's second takeaway from Kimrey's talk is that it's important "to be part of the solution and engage and learn with all the resources Intel and other providers are providing." Lastly, he added, "things are coming to the edge," meaning that solution providers should get ready for the oncoming wave of 5G networks.

Kimrey's keynote reiterated some points he made in an interview with CRN earlier this summer, where he urged channel partners to chase opportunities in AI, the Internet of Things and memory.

During his talk, Kimrey said one of the biggest limiting factors partners face is the gap between the emerging technologies that are available and businesses not knowing how to take advantage of them.

"I think that creates our collective opportunity. How do we collectively work together to close that gap and make it easier for customers to benefit from the technology?" Kimrey said.

Optane memory is one of the newer technologies that Intel has been talking about to partners in the past year, first on the client side and more recently in the data center. At the company's Data-Centric Innovation Summit earlier this month, Intel said it had started shipping Optane DC persistent memory, which can bring about "workloads that weren't possible before" and solve "bottlenecks in the DRAM tier" of memory.

Intel has also been promoting FPGAs, or field-programmable gate arrays, the company's set of reprogrammable chips that were added through its $16.7 billion acquisition of Altera in 2015.

The company sees both FPGAs and Optane memory playing a big role in the growing demand for artificial intelligence workloads, which Kimrey said solution providers cannot ignore. To illustrate AI's growth opportunities, he pointed out how Xeon server CPU sales for AI applications reached $1 billion last year.

"If you look at where all the projected hardware spend is expected to happen in the next five to 10 years, it's all going to come from AI," he said. "And what I would tell you is AI is a space you just need to get started in."

Kimrey said it's also important to get ready for the coming wave of 5G, a faster cellular speed that is needed with the increasing amount of data that is being processed. Intel has been making major investments in the technology between 5G modems and 5G infrastructure.

"There's not enough bandwidth today to handle the data that I talked about that's coming," he said.

With 5G, Kimrey said, comes new technologies, such as drones. He admitted that while drones "are not going to be a huge business for us ... it's helping us solve some really interesting and really hard problems." Those problems include analytics at the edge and crash-avoidance technology.

"For one, it creates a great platform for us to showcase our brand, but it's also helping us develop some really interesting technologies," he said.

Kimrey closed by saying that Intel's partner program continues to "evolve," not just to provide the "best tools to design your next-generation Xeon platform," but also to "help you create the platform solving the pressing business concerns of your customers."

"We understand that we are an ingredients supplier to the solutions that each and everyone of you provide, and we want to help you grow your business with Intel," he said.