An Interview With Intel Pakistan’s Country Manager: Naveed Siraj
Recently, we at WCCFtech had got a chance to interview Intel Pakistan’s country manager over a cup of coffee to sit back and talk about how over the years Intel Pakistan has progressed in our country and is constantly working towards modernizing our community along with talking in depth about Intel’s new Ultrabook.
Are you satisfied with the policies and role of the authority for the development of sector, or what will you suggest for the development of sector?
The future of the country is brilliant, our economy despite challenges is resilient, our people extremely committed and hardworking. And we recognized this when we established our office in Pakistan in 1997. Intel was the first IT company which took the lead to establish a re-seller channel in the country. This vibrant reseller network is today being leveraged by a host of other international IT companies to market their products which is fantastic because the foundations that we laid, not only enabled growth of IT industry but also helped build strong ecosystems. In the process of recruiting and appointing resellers, what we found in all the markets in Pakistan was the immense talent and diversity of businesses; people passionate about enhancing their organizational efficiency, improving their services and generally being committed to technology and its integration in their own businesses.
Do you agree that Pakistan has vast potential to excel in the field of ICT? Please elaborate your reply.
Pakistan being one of the most fast-paced growing nations has a lot of potential to excel in the field of ICT. Although Intel has emerged in rural areas, we still have not been able to bridge the digital divide gap.
In attempts to minimize the digital divide, the Intel® Education Initiative uses ICT resources (in rural and urban areas) to advance economies and social development goals. The ICT-based education reforms followed allow the Intel Education Initiative to help educational policy makers and thought leaders create an education system that prepares teachers and students for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century and contributes to national economic and social goals. Intel is receiving support from government authorities, and through the support of the private and public sector we hope to excel in the field of ICT by entering the rural markets which have been inaccessible thus far.
What is the way-out to develop/increase the strength of ICT sector?
2011 marks the 10th year that the program has been in implementation in Pakistan and we continue to serve diverse geographies and demographics in our un-served and underserved communities. The following are the programs currently run in the ICT sector which will continue being worked upon, and strengthened in the upcoming years:
Intel Teach Program was launched in Pakistan under Intel Education Initiative in the year 2002. The program has expanded manifolds within the past eight years and currently offers a suite of courses and workshops to teachers, principals and administrators to cater to varying levels of needs and readiness in terms of ICT in education, launched in 2007. Till date over 300,000 teachers have been trained on the curriculum since the program’s inception, and it has reached more than 60 districts all over the country.
Intel Education Awards are held annually in Pakistan to celebrate and promote technology integration by teachers and schools. The awards aim to motivate teachers and school administration to enhance implementation in the classroom and develop 21st century skills amongst students, with the help of technology.
The International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) was launched in Pakistan in 2004 with the aim of promoting students’ interest in science and research. Research workshops are held across Pakistan to educate teachers and students on science and research. Each year, more than 6 million young scientists from around the world attend ISEF.
The National Science Fair, organized every year by Intel Pakistan Corporation in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Government of Pakistan, is part of Intel’s efforts to contribute to science education reform in Pakistan. Every year more than 5000 students are involved in Science Fair activities.
Through Intel ISEF Pakistani students have been able to show their skills in other countries such as Korea, Turkey, Georgia etc and have also won foreign scholarships and cash prizes.
Intel has recently launched Ultrabooks. Is the development of Ultrabook demand-driven or the product has been introduced first, expecting the demand to follow. Does Pakistan have a ready market for products like Ultrabook?
To define the category of Ultrabook systems, Intel began with what people want most out of their digital companions, both from an emotional and a rational perspective. Ultrabook systems are designed to give people the power to both create and share, all in a thin, light and elegant device that offers an immersive and responsive experience. Ultrabook devices are also designed to deliver mobility without compromise, built-in security.
An Ultrabook is a new category of computing devices inspired by Intel that will increasingly give people the most complete and satisfying, no-compromise and more secure computing experience in one, sleek and portable device. Key features include substantially longer battery life, Ultra sleek, ultra responsive, ultra secure. Pakistani consumers like any other in the world want these features in their PCs and are always on-the-go, hence there is a ready market for products like Ultrabook. As Intel we believe that anything better than our technology is what you/consumers will do with it and with every new technological breakthrough the aim is to make users life better and satisfy their current/future needs and Ultrabooks definitely do that.
Aren’t companies like Apple and Samsung already delivering the Ultrabook™?
While I cannot comment specifically on our customers’ products and plans, with its combination of performance, responsiveness, security and thinness, we believe the Ultrabook™ will offer a compelling and unique value to consumers worldwide. There is a tremendous amount of innovation already happening in the industry, and many are blazing the trail to thin and light devices.
Is lack of competition hurting Intel? Is the tick-tock model slowing down as the competition has pretty much no answer for Intel’s high end?
Intel’s “tick-tock” model inspires confidence in the future of microprocessors and the devices that depend on them. Following this model, Intel commits to—and has successfully delivered—continued innovations in manufacturing process technology and processor micro-architecture in alternating “tick” and “tock” cycles. With a “tick” cycle every couple of years, look for Intel to advance manufacturing process technology and continue to deliver the expected benefits of Moore’s Law to users. In alternating “tock” cycles, expect Intel to use the previous “tick” cycle’s manufacturing process technologies to introduce the next big innovation in processor micro-architecture. Intel® micro-architecture advancements seek to improve energy efficiency and performance, as well as functionality and density of features, such as hardware-supported video transcoding, encryption/decryption, and other integrated capabilities. During the last “tick”, Intel paved the way for faster computing speeds, reduced power consumption, and more sophisticated applications with the release of Intel® Core™ processor family on 32nm. During the subsequent “tock,” Intel vastly improved mainstream gaming, HD video, Web, and other user experiences with Intel® micro-architecture code name Sandy Bridge on 32nm process technology. Expect these alternating advances in manufacturing process and micro-architecture design to continue in the 3rd generation Intel® Core processor family that released in 2012.
Looking at how BGA will limit the users with upgrade choice, would a certain HEDT (High End Desktop) platform cease to exist for PC Enthusiasts like LGA2011?
Intel Corp. will only offer mainstream desktop chips in BGA packaging, which will eliminate upgrade options as well as increase risks for PC makers.
Both Intel and Advanced Micro Devices supply two different desktop platforms these days, making a very clear difference between mainstream and high-end desktop. Still, mainstream PCs with simplistic processors may easily be upgraded with very fast processors thanks to the fact that the chips are interchangeable and come in the same LGA1155 form-factor. Unfortunately, the ease of upgrade may come to an end in two years as starting from Broadwell generation of central processing units (CPUs) mainstream chips will cease to use land grid array (LGA) and micro pin grid array (µPGA) packages and will only be available in in ball grid array (BGA) form-factors, just like Intel Atom processors.
The general trend in computing now seems to be that people prefer devices with long battery lives compared to raw performance. In fact most people now prefer to pick up relatively less powerful Ultrabook platform compared to bleeding edge silicon. With even Intel’s closest competitors clearly out of the picture in terms of performance, does Intel still plan to push raw performance as a selling point of focus more on all day battery life and other features that matter? (like maybe better integrated GPUs which can easily handle high detail gaming at 1080p)
Intel has been boosting performance and improving power efficiency simultaneously. Intel already has a 2-year process lead over TSMC and GloFo on node size, and potentially a four-year lead on FinFETs (nonplanar transistors). Beyond this, Intel is investing in significant R&D to improve their technology even further.
Much of this investment is focused in reducing power consumption by improving performance per watt. Compared to Ivy Bridge (the current line of chips), Haswell, Intel’s next tock, offers 20x lower idle power draw and 2X the GPU performance at the same power draw. This comes after significant power efficiency improvements in Ivy Bridge. The net effect of these efficiency improvements is:
Some new Haswell chips will consume under 10 watts of power and deliver performance similar to Ivy Bridge chips drawing 17 watts of power. But Haswell can deliver double the performance compared to Ivy Bridge on the same power consumption.
PC makers have quoted Ultrabooks with Ivy Bridge delivering battery life of between six and eight hours, and up to 10 hours in some cases. The new chips could give convertible Ultrabooks battery life of more than 12 hours, and perhaps up to 20 hours.
Haswell powered laptops/Ultrabooks offer benefits like 2x the graphics performance of Ivy Bridge. In summary, Haswell is one of the most impressive upgrades Intel’s ever made.
Haswell will be out mid-2013, meaning by next year, all concerns about Intel’s power efficiency should be laid to rest. But it doesn’t stop there. Broadwell, the 14-nm shrink (tick) due for 2014, will revamp GPU architecture resulting in further improvements, and in addition, be a fully-integrated SoC.
It’s not always as simple as “more cores = better.” Imagine a situation where you have one paper document and a bunch of people trying to cut out parts of it. You could theoretically have a few people doing this at once, but you’re never going to get 16 people doing this at once. So even if you hire 16 people, you’re not going to get more “performance” from them than you will from 8 – and since they’re sitting unused, there’s a significant cost. In processor terms, that cost is power.
Is Intel transferring its focus from PC market to mobile market with upcoming general purpose CPUs?
As mobile adoption rates continue to skyrocket across Asia, Intel believes that this will allow people to create, share and consume content anywhere, anytime. Intel examined how people share and consume information online and how certain digital sharing behaviors impact culture and relationships. The concept of digital over-sharing, or sharing too much personal information online, has appeared as a growing trend across the region.
During the last Ultrabook event, you mentioned that Ivy Bridge and Haswell architecture would bring significant improvement to visual performance for users. However solutions from other competitors seem to run fast and consume the same amount of performance as per low voltage Intel CPUs. Would Intel next CPU architectures be able to change the game in the netbook market?
“Haswell” which is the third step toward accelerating the Ultrabook and reinventing the capabilities of the laptop in ultra-thin and light, responsive and secure designs. With “Haswell,” Intel will change the mainstream laptop thermal design point by reducing microprocessor power to 10-20 watts — half of today’s design point. The Ultrabook device represents just one device that is currently changing the mobile computing field. Eventually people will think of an Ultrabook as a tablet when they want it and a PC when they need it. This is an historic change that we believe will redefine the computing experience.
With enterprises moving to the cloud, they need less and less amount of hardware on premises. Does Intel view this as a threat to its business or a new opportunity?
Cloud computing has been a source of discussion for several years, and is still growing fast -traffic worldwide is set to grow six-fold by 20168. This growth will be led by the Asia Pacific region which will generate the most cloud traffic at 1.5 zettabytes annually. To put this into context, if the 11oz coffee cup on your desk was equal to one gigabyte, then one zettabyte would have the same volume as the Great Wall of China.
Cloud computing is gaining momentum in the Asia Pacific – IT decision makers in Asia plan to implement cloud environments in the next 12 months.
In relation to the previous question, imagine a world where more and more enterprises move their on premises servers to the cloud and replace their desktops with thin clients and tablets with all day battery life running Windows RT since they only need to access their cloud services. How does Intel plan to address this market segment with its technologies?
We are embracing cloud computing across the entire consumption supply chain – from PC, mobile devices, servers to datacenters. Intel’s vision is to enable customers, OEMs, partners with holistic approach. Various efforts are on progress such as :
- Data Center Design – enabling cloud computing usage models via via Intel architecture that synergize compute power, networking, storage, and security solutions.
- Cloud Security: provide efficient data and systems protection across different platform under cloud-computing environment.
- Intel® Cloud Builders Program: drive cross-industry initiative to build more simplified, secure, and efficient cloud infrastructure.
- PC Client in the Cloud: continue to enable Intel PC clients with hardware-enabled security, enhanced manageability, and a better user experience within the cloud.
- Open Data Center Alliance: work across industry for to deliver an open and interoperable approach.
Intel had achieved great success in driving the infrastructure for cloud. As cloud connectivity increases so do demands for servers and storage capable of handling the load. Server sales are strong, with the majority running x86 processors and cloud is one of the key force driving demand.
As for the ‘thin client’ which had been discussed for years, cloud had brought forth a different trend – instead of focusing on “simple & easy”, there are moves to build more powerful mobile devices. Due to fast-increasing applications on cloud, with more multimedia and complex content created, users are looking to have better experiences to handle and interact with contents. Hence, it needed to be connected with faster wireless connection which a powerful device will have more advantages with. The phone and tablet makers see this too, with ever more powerful dual and quad-core chips being built into them (many with Intel chips).
About Naveed Siraj:
Mr. Siraj began his career in 1993 and has more than seventeen years of IT industry experience in posts Account Sales Manager, National Sales Manager and Country Lead. He holds a Bachelor’s in Computer Science and Engineering from University of Nebraska at Lincoln and a Master’s in Industrial Engineering from the State University of New York.