Intel Forms Dedicated Artificial Intelligence Group Headed By Former Nervana CEO Naveen Rao

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If you had any previous concerns about the importance of artificial intelligence (AI) for the future advancement of technology, look at how the major players are jockeying for position. Earlier this month, Intel purchased machine vision company Mobileye to get its hands on 70 percent of the market for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) in self-driving vehicles.

Today, Intel announced that it is consolidating its AI efforts into a single group that reports directly to CEO Brian Krzanich. Leading the new Artificial Intelligence Products Group (AIPG) is Naveen Rao, who served as CEO of Nervana, which was acquired by Intel in August 2016 for $400 million. The Nervana acquisition brought Intel a fully-optimized software and hardware stack for deep learning tasks.

Using the Nervana tech as a basis, Intel is looking to usher in a new wave of AI breakthroughs. “Just as Intel has done in previous waves of computational trends, such as personal and cloud computing, Intel intends to rally the industry around a set of standards for AI that ultimately brings down costs and makes AI more accessible to more people – not only institutions, governments and large companies, as it is today,” said Rao.

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Naveen Rao, Vice President and General Manager of the new Artificial Intelligence Products Group

“The new organization will align resources from across the company to include engineering, labs, software and more as we build on our current leading AI portfolio: the Intel Nervana platform, a full-stack of hardware and software AI offerings that our customers are looking for from us.”

The AIPG will also incorporate an applied research lab that will further push major breakthroughs in AI technology. The lab will focus on “novel architectural and algorithmic” approaches to leap over technological hurdles that may be in the way of preventing the widespread use of AI in the future.

Patrick Moorhead, who serves as President and Principal Analyst of Moor Insights & Strategy, commended Intel’s newfound focus on AI, writing:

Intel sees the huge potential in AI and are moving mountains to take full advantage of it. They have acquired Altera, Nervana Systems and other IP, need to connect to their home-grown IP and now it's time to accelerate the delivery of it. That's where today's organization comes in play, a centralized organization, reporting directly to CEO Brian Krzanich, to make that happen. This is classic organizational strategy, accelerating delivery by organizing a cross-product group directly reporting to the CEO.

Intel is hoping that its Nervana technology along with Knights Mill-based Xeon Phi processors will help to usher in a 100-fold performance boost in training complex neural networks over the next three years.

“Intel has the vision, the technologies and the commitment to harness the power of AI to deliver a better world,” said Krzanich back in November. “Now is the time to inspire and innovate for the future.”