Intel, AT&T Take Their Friendship One Notch Up


Intel and AT&T are deepening their existing partnership, as part of which AT&T will get early access to new technologies from the chip maker, says a report from Fortune by Jonathan Vanian. The duo will work together on networking infrastructure problems that are specific to the carrier’s needs, said the two companies at Intel’s annual developer conference on Wednesday.

Intel and its so-called Super 7

AT&T intends to improve its giant data center network and also stream data to customers without any hiccups, and to do this, it is exploring cutting-edge technologies. There already exists a tech team of 50 engineers that the two companies created together. The team is working on fine-tuning Intel’s chip technology to work more efficiently with AT&T’s custom networking software, which it might make publicly available for free, notes the report.

Diane Bryant, executive vice president of Intel’s data center business, said Intel is modeling its AT&T partnership on the existing relationships it has with its so-called Super 7 cloud-computing customers – Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon and Chinese tech giants Tencent, Baidu and Alibaba.

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Bryant said more than 50% of the chips used by these cloud computing giants are custom built. To ensure that everything in their data centers is top notch, these companies continuously experiment with new technologies.

AT&T’s needs are different than others

As part of its partnerships, the chip maker is required to provide chips and designs to these companies before they become publicly available and at times even build special equipment for each business, notes Fortune.

AT&T, however, is a much older company than these newer, more web-oriented cloud businesses that are part of the Super 7. Behind the scenes, AT&T has decades of older technology operating. For this reason, the needs and requirements of AT&T are different from the younger companies, says the report.

Bryant said, “With AT&T, you are in the middle of a massive transformation.”

Bryant believes a virtualized network infrastructure – based on Intel chips – can be defined with software, and also enabled across the cloud. And, it could take the place of networks that need expensive custom silicon solutions. AT&T will be able to virtualize the functions across its network by using Intel Xeon chips in its data centers servers.

AT&T Chief Strategy Officer John Donovan said that AT&T is retrofitting a lot of its older data center technology which has turned very rigid and hard. His staff found a software bug in a system that was 42 years old, highlighting the company’s needs to deal with aging technology.

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