Intel Sees 15 Billion Devices On The Cloud By 2015

Chipmaker is counting on new 3D processor technology to make cloud ubiquity economically possible.

Intel is researching and developing new chip technologies in an effort to self-fulfill its prediction that the cloud will support as many as 15 billion intelligent devices by 2015, a company officials said.

Intel Architecture Group VP Kirk Skaugen on Wednesday told a keynote audience at the Interop technology conference in Las Vegas that the company expects the global economy to be fully wired within the next five years. “It’s aspirational enough, but it’s not far enough out that we can’t see a path,” said Skaugen.

“If it runs on electricity, it will compute, and if it computes it will be connected to the Internet,” said Skaugen. He also predicted that virtually the entire population of the planet would be touched in some way by the cloud in the next half decade—whether they be direct users or just ordinary citizens who benefit from products or research that wouldn’t be possible without the low-cost, high-scalability cloud model.

For the predictions to come true, Skaugen said breakthroughs must be made in the technology that supports the cloud, as well as in cloud architectures and business models. “We’ve had the highest run of Moore’s Law in history,” said Skaugen. “But it’s absolutely not enough to get another billion people connected to the Internet.”

Skaugen said Intel is doing its part by pushing the limits of silicon. The company’s latest breakthrough is the new Tri-Gate 3D transistor. The 22-nanometer technology, which will be incorporated into Intel’s forthcoming Ivy Bridge line of chips, features a three-dimensional planar gate that turbocharges throughput in the “on” state. The upshot is increased performance—up to 37% over Intel’s 32 nm technology—and significantly reduced power consumption, which could make it ideal for mobile devices.

Skaugen said Tri-Gate is part of the equation needed to make the company’s Cloud 2015 vision come true. “We had to change the economics of computing.” Beyond hardware, cloud business models must change if there’s ever to be a worldwide network of compatible clouds that functions much like the Internet. The biggest challenge: At present, clouds from different vendors don’t interoperate. “We can’t let the cloud evolve in a proprietary way,” said Skaugen.

With that in mind, Intel has published a series of in-depth best practices guides to building open clouds. The Intel Cloud Builders papers can be downloaded free from the chipmaker’s Web site. “Lock in is at the top of the list of why people are not moving to the cloud,” said Skaugen.

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