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Intel’s Gelsinger: AMD’s Lead ‘Over’ With New Alder Lake, Sapphire Rapids CPUs

In an exclusive interview with CRN, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger talks about how the upcoming Alder Lake and Sapphire Rapids CPUs will put the heat on AMD, his view of Arm’s emergence in the data center and the importance of channel partners to Intel’s future.

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How important are channel partners to the future of Intel?

You’re clearly not the most important thing. I got to build fabs and great products, but after that, you’re pretty high up on the list in that sense. And whether it’s direct or indirect in the sense that, hey, Dell is our biggest customer, but Dell sells almost everything they do through the channel. So either directly or indirectly, yeah, it’s pretty important how we work with, partner with and support our channel partners, because that’s fundamentally how we get our technologies to market.

We also see, as markets are being created, the role of the channel partners is very high in helping to create the solutions. And then as the market starts to get established, that creation phase dissipates and the distribution and the enablement phase emerges more, and you see that over and over again in different markets. And I do think that we’re going into a phase of significant new market creation. As we think about these edge use cases and 5G use cases and all the things that are occurring as the digitization of everything occurs, I think we’re coming into a phase that there will unquestionably be shifts in who’s playing what [role] and which channel partners step into that, but I do think it’s going to be a very vibrant time for innovation through and with the channel partners.

Intel’s U.S. channel chief, Jason Kimrey (pictured), once told CRN that Intel’s strategy mirror’s Intel’s partner strategy. Do you think that statement still holds true?

I think that’s a very succinct way to describe it, in that sense, so I’d simply say yes to that. I do think that as we’re in this next phase of our journey as a company that there’s also going to be lots of unique opportunities for us to be bringing new innovations to the channel, but also to be listening to the channel and getting their feedback, guidance and inputs.

And in that sense, [there’s] going to be very obviously lots of supply challenges that we collectively [experience]. I was just on the phone [recently] with one of the big channel players, who said, “Pat, just help me understand what’s going on in this supply situation? How long is this going to be? Help me understand.” So I think on some of that, hey, we’re going to bring certain wisdom and insights to what’s going on, but we also then need to listen and gather that feedback with some of these emerging markets as well. And I think if we combine those two and then continue our relentless advocacy for channel partners, making sure their business models remain intact and supported, I think there’s a lot of good things that are going happen over the next few years together.

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