Intel Could Bolster Its Chip Tech Arsenal With New Paid Software And Services

Intel Headquarters
We all know Intel is getting ready to release Alder Lake, a hybrid architecture that will evolve into future designs, including Raptor Lake and Meteor Lake. And of course there are new chipsets on the horizon, like Z690. But hardware is only part of the equation. Software is an important revenue stream as well. And as such, Intel could take more of a "software-first" approach in the future, according to recent comments by Pat Gelsinger, the company's CEO.

As far as Gelsinger is concerned, expanding Intel's software and services portfolio is a "somewhat natural progression" for the chip maker. His time spent as CEO of VMware broadened his outlook in that regard, giving him a front-row seat to the software market's shift to a software-as-a-service (SaaS) business model. And that's a transition that Gelsinger wants to hitch Intel's wagon to.

"I do expect that you’ll see more in that area: How do we leverage our software assets? How do we have unique monetized software assets and services that we’ll be delivering to the industry, that can stand in and of their own right? And yeah, that’s a piece of the business model that I do expect to do more of in the future," Gelsinger told CRN during a recent interview.

Gelsinger said Intel is looking for more ways to deliver paid software experiences. That could include more paid-for services, and also simply bolstering Intel's software product catalog.

Part of the play here appears to boil down to keeping up with Joneses. Or more accurately, keeping up with NVIDIA, which has been steadily adding to its enterprise software portfolio. NVIDIA currently owns around 10 paid enterprise software solutions, which it believes could open the door to billions of dollar as time goes on.

Intel is already invested in paid software and services, so this is not new territory by any stretch. However, it is in a unique position to offer software that is perhaps off the beaten path. In a separate interview with CRN, Intel's Greg Lavender talked about developing paid software solutions that tap into the hardware telemetry capabilities of the company's processors.

These types of solutions could help developers root out performance and power consumption issues. This is already offered to an extent, within the data center. But there is room for expansion. Specifically, the built-in security functions of Intel's CPUs is an avenue to explore. One example would be improving the intelligence of a security service, to ultimately better protect corporate networks from threat vectors.

"There are these ecosystems evolving, and it’s no longer just you and your laptop, especially if you’re a corporate user. That laptop’s corporate property. It plays into a corporate network ecosystem, but you’re roaming around in an unprotected environment, not the corporate environment. So there’s got to be new technology, new software, new business models, new AI to make sure those devices are within the policy set by the security people," Lavender said.

Obviously none of this terribly exciting from a home consumer standpoint. But whatever Intel has in store for could trickle into the consumer space, as these things often do, in some capacity.