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Intel spins off AI software division and hires new data centre chief

The stand-alone company is backed by a group of tech investors and will develop a generative AI platform for enterprise.

By Matthew Gooding

Intel has moved its AI software projects into a new company, Articul8 AI, which it says will offer customers a full-stack generative AI platform to rival those on offer from other Big Tech companies. The chipmaker also revealed it has hired former HPC executive Justin Hotard to lead its data centre and AI hardware division.

Intel has articulated its vision for AI software – a new spin-out company named Articul8 AI. (Photo by Intel)

Articul8 AI has been formed by Intel and Digital Bridge, a global investment fund. Other investors in the new business include Fin Capital, Mindset Ventures, Communitas Capital, GiantLeap Capital, GS Futures and Zain Group. It will be led by Arun Subramaniyan, formerly vice president and general manager in Intel’s Data Centre and AI Group, who takes up the role of CEO.

Why has Intel spun off its AI software work to Articul8 AI?

Building on technology developed by Intel, Articul8 AI will sell a software platform that “delivers speed, security and cost-efficiency to help large enterprise customers operationalize and scale AI”, according to a statement announcing the company’s launch. Though it was launched and optimised on Intel hardware architectures, including its Xeon scalable processors and new Gaudi AI accelerators, it will also “support a range of hybrid infrastructure alternatives” from other vendors.

The technology has already been deployed at one of Intel’s clients, Boston Consulting Group. Since then the Articul8 AI team has scaled the platform for “enterprise customers in industry segments requiring high levels of security and specialized domain knowledge, including financial services, aerospace, semiconductors and telecommunications.”

Since the launch of ChatGPT in 2022 and the subsequent AI revolution, generative AI in the enterprise has become a focus for many tech vendors, and Articul8 will be competing in what is already a crowded market. This enthusiasm from developers has yet to be matched by spending commitments from clients, with many large businesses yet to make significant AI deployments amid concerns over data security. But AI spending is expected to ramp up in the coming years.

Nonetheless, Pat Gelsinger, Intel CEO, is optimistic about the new company’s prospects: “With its deep AI and HPC domain knowledge and enterprise-grade GenAI deployments, Articul8 is well positioned to deliver tangible business outcomes for Intel and our broader ecosystem of customers and partners,” Gelsinger said.

Intel and Articul8 AI will “remain strategically aligned on go-to-market opportunities and collaborate on driving generative AI adoption in the enterprise,” an Intel statement said, though it has not disclosed how large its stake in the new company is.

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Hotard takes the helm of Intel’s data centre and AI business

Articul8 AI is the second spin-off Intel has created in recent months. In October it announced that its programmable solutions group (PSG) into a stand-alone business, which began operations on 1 January. It develops FGPAs, a powerful type of programmable chip used in industries such as aerospace.

The launch of PSG created a vacancy at the top of Intel’s data centre and AI division, with the previous general manager, Sandra Rivera, taking up the new role of PSG CEO. She will be succeeded by Hotard, who joins Intel from HPC, where he worked for nine years, most recently as executive vice president and general manager of high-performance computing, AI and labs.

Intel has long been the dominant player in data centre silicon but has seen rival AMD eat into its market share over recent years. At the same time, Intel clients such as Apple have moved away from the vendor, instead developing their own chips in-house. Meanwhile, companies such as Ampere Computing have started offering data centre semiconductors based on Arm architecture which are growing in popularity.

Gelsinger said Hotard’s record of “driving growth and innovation in the data centre and AI” will help his company stay ahead of the competition. “Justin is committed to our vision to create world-changing technologies and passionate about the critical role Intel will play in empowering our customers for decades to come,” Gelsinger said.

Read more: Intel pitches AI PCs, but is it already late to the party?

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