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Intel's New IoT Sales Chief Talks 'Customer Obsession,' New Hardware

Intel's new IoT sales chief, Brad Haczynski, talks to CRN about the chipmaker's new focus on 'customer obsession,' Intel's drive to help partners scale IoT projects and new 'purpose-built silicon' that will expand Intel's IoT portfolio.

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What products fall under the IOTG portfolio? I know you have Quark and Atom processors, and Core processors as well, but what other solutions are you selling?

A lot of the products on the portfolio today are what we call "adopt and modify." So you mentioned Atom, you mentioned Core. There is actually Xeon as well. And so if you look at those as the base compute products, a lot of times what we do is, there will be some level of adopting it from the system business unit in the case of a client product. But typically for IoT applications, like other embedded-type applications, there's a longer life cycle required. So a lot of times what you'll have is you will adopt a specific SKU for, say, [Client Computing Group], and you'll then modify it to have a longer life cycle, so that it can support say a seven-year or potentially 15-year lifespan. That is really required for IoT applications.

There is also a host of technologies in-house and accelerators. We acquired Movidius a few years ago, and the Movidius [visual processor unit] products are now in-house as part of IOTG as an accelerator for vision inference. So you [combine] a Movidius VPU with an Intel CPU. We talk about OpenVINO as the framework for vision inference. That's a big part of the strategy right now. And so we have things like the Neural Compute Stick, which is basically a Movidius chip on a stick for the developer ecosystem to be able to develop and work on OpenVINO. And we have other accelerated products that we bring in from the partner organizations. If you think about the [Programmable Solutions Group] products, such as the FPGAs — again, another accelerator. So all of this is really encompassing IoT products.

Now moving forward, part of Tom [Lantzsch's] strategy is to build purpose-built silicon. While I can't talk about products we haven't launched, they are products that they're working on that are IoT-specific products. So having certain features and capabilities that are more IoT-specific, built from the ground up for IoT applications versus just adopting and modifying from other business units.

With the "adopt and modify" approach, are you leaning into partners to do stuff like that, like system integrators and other kinds of partners? Or does Intel take care of it?

We typically do that. So what happens is now, of course, if you go back to the customer obsession and feedback, we do a lot of things. We have our big OEM partners and then here at the [Intel Partner Connect] event, where we get to meet with [Intel's] board of advisors and have the network of Intel partners. A lot of times that feedback [goes back to] the roadmap about the types of SKUs we need and, "hey, you're missing this particular SKU, or "you're missing this particular part of the performance roadmap." So we definitely take that input, but the decision is ultimately made by the business unit.

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