As we tread deeper into 2017, all eyes will be set on Intel Corp. (NASDAQ:INTC) and its powerful grip on the data center market. Right now, two of the largest semiconductor end spaces feature little to no growth at all. These are namely the PC and smartphone segments. Sitting on the other end of that scale, one particular market currently sees rapid increases, and Intel is planted at the top of this treasure heap with an overwhelming 99 per cent dominance. The new year comes with talks of formidable rivals, but will Intel lose a significant share of its data center market?
Intel faces heavy competition in 2017
Competitors are gearing up to take on Intel as the data center scene pushes into new frontiers. Analysts currently recognize this market as the fastest growing semiconductor segment. Leading chip giants across the board are now ready to adopt major roles in the data center scene. The likes of AMD, IBM and Qualcomm are perhaps the most notable of these companies. They are gunning for greater stakes in Intel’s stronghold.
IBM has announced plans to roll out its Power9 platform. It will feature field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) made by Xilinx. Both Qualcomm and AMD have their own processors set for release as well. Qualcomm is ready to launch its ARM-based server chips this year while AMD is edging closer to the release of its Zen chips. The latter are also set to come out within the next few months.
One analysts who believe the data center space will be the fastest growing market this year is Ross Seymore. The analyst works for Deutsche Bank and projects an overall growth of 10 per cent in 2017. IBS is confident of even greater increases, believing the data center space will expand by around 14 per cent before the year is out.
Intel and AI
There will be significantly more cracks for other tech companies to creep into and expand themselves as the data center business gains extra legroom. Currently the market is transitioning into the realm of artificial intelligence and deep learning systems. These demand actual-time data processing for voice, image and pattern recognition.
The GPU giant NVIDIA has a head-start in this regard. Its image processing chips are currently used as a catalysts by numerous tech firms to conduct deep learning tasks. Similarly, Intel recently adopted Altera, a maker of FPGAs, in order to kickstart its deep learning ventures. The benefit of FPGAs is that they can be reprogrammed on the go, re-used and re-purposed for specific tasks.
There are many other tech companies which have combined their efforts to take on Intel Corp. and its data center dominance. Firms like IBM, AMD, Huawei and Mellanox Technologies have all teamed up with Xilinx in order to form a single interconnected platform that will enable varied CPUs to relay data to FPGAs. If the formation of such an interface is successful, it could pose as a major threat to Intel’s market share.
However, the biggest rivalry that Intel has look out for is AMD. The chip-making company has been among the only to give Intel Corp. (NASDAQ:INTC) a hard time in the server, and PC markets over the years. 2017 is sure to see the battle between these two companies heat up significantly.