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Intel's Big Data Play: 5 Facts

Intel ruled the PC era. Can it do the same in the age of big data and the Internet of Things?

32-socket configurations "due to price/performance inelasticity as you climb above 2-socket [options], but "they will still likely purchase the highest-end chips with a maximum number of cores."

4. Intel continues to invest for the Internet of Things.
Intel has shown a strong interest recently in IoT. From Intel Developer Forum to CES, most of the attention has gone to small, low-energy chips to be embedded in smart objects. These processors don't do a lot of number-crunching locally, so as IoT applications grow more sophisticated, more and more of them will rely on analytics work done in the cloud. With the new E7 chips potentially providing this back-end computational force, Intel is positioning its chips across the entire IoT spectrum.

"IoT, if nothing else, is the massive proliferation of data gathering points across an exploding array of devices and machine sensors," said Stolarski, noting that many of that data's uses, such as fraud detection and prevention by credit card companies, demand that complex analytics be performed, not only on the fly, but also "in seconds."

"Traditional databases on industry-standard servers just can't do that kind of processing. If Intel has found the right combination of performance metrics for its chipsets, it may set up the industry to finally realize the potential of the Internet of Things."

5. Intel still faces questions.
The E7 launched this week with strong industry support from Intel's manufacturing partners and generally optimistic notes from commentators. But Intel still faces challenges.

Stolarski said Intel's performance claims "indeed raise the Xeon family closer to some of the RISC-based mission-critical architectures." But he cautioned that RISC "will likely stay ahead in performance for the time being, with refreshes of their own coming up."

It "still remains to be seen if customers will migrate their mission-critical workloads en masse from RISC to x86," he said.

And, for all this talk about datacenter progress, don't forget about mobile, where Intel's chips are far outnumbered by ARM-based designs, said Mushell, who added, "Intel is always late, but this time, they were way too late."

He said the company has made efforts to realign its workforce, but that its mobile missteps speak to bigger issues. "Intel has [only] learned to lead," he said, noting that the company must learn to be more responsive to customer desires.

"They are changing their DNA, but DNA doesn't change that fast."

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Michael Endler joined InformationWeek as an associate editor in 2012. He previously worked in talent representation in the entertainment industry, as a freelance copywriter and photojournalist, and as a teacher. Michael earned a BA in English from Stanford University in 2005 ... View Full Bio

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