Intel takes on cities and supersonic cars

From cities to mobile phones, chipmaker Intel is aiming for ubiquity and backed by Number 10. Matt Warman reports. 

Never mind the billions of chips sold since Intel was founded in 1968: it’s two words - Intel Inside - and a five-note jingle that turned the company into one of the world’s most valuable brands.

And over the last couple of weeks, the firm’s position at the heart of Britain’s technology scene has been further cemented. In a rare event hosted by the Chancellor, George Osborne, at Number 10 Downing Street, the chipmaker was hailed as a key part of the bid to turn the UK into Europe’s technology hub.
Mr Osborne’s special adviser, Tim Luke, went further: he praised Intel for being “the real people at the edge of defining Moore’s Law [which predicts the growth in computer power].” And he added that the “person making the pitch” for the latest Intel investm ent in the UK was none other than the Chancellor himself.
Last month the company announced a £45million investment in a UK-based Research Institute looking at the future of modern, “sustainable connected” cities, building on its existing investments in the UK’s Tech City hub in East London, which Downing Street hopes will turn the area into a British version of Silicon Valley. This week, the company also chose Britain to launch the first mobile phone to use its chips in the developed world.

That Future Cities Institute, however, underlines the scale of Intel’s ambition. Martin Curley, director of innovation and research at Intel, says the company sees the possibility of “substituting silicon” in a host of new situations. He talks of the idea of the “city as a platform”, which means the increasing, live automation of transport systems, water systems and a series of other problems that beset big urban environments. London’s Cycle Hire Scheme, for instance, has yielded reams of new data about where users (whose data is anonymised) go and potentially where lucrative places to set up new businesses might be. Analysis of the use of electric vehicles in Ireland may also allow 'smart scheduling’ of recharging so that the technology can implemented more easily, and even integrated with car sharing schemes and the driverless cars that companies such as Google are already working on.
Similar analysis of workers’ movements for Westminster Council has allowed workforces to be encouraged to work away from the office. Several floors of office space have been freed up and are now rented out instead.
Intel is even investing in a new bid to break the land speed record – its chips will power the new 'Bloodhound’ car so that it can be modelled and adjusted as it hopefully goes through the speed of sound.
Silicon, according to Chief Technology Officer Justin Rattner, has never been more important. “As the world needs processing power for more and more tasks, we need the hardware to do the calculations right,” he says. Intel is not the only chipmaker in the world, but it seems that the company is becoming increasingly ubiquitous.(Telegraph)




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