Beyond the server, Intel now has x86 chips in wireless base stations operating in a pilot for cellular carrier SK Telecom in Korea. Intel said last year it had plans to supplant the DSP and ARM multicore chips from Cavium, Freescale, Texas Instruments, and others but has not announced details of those chips.
"Intelligence is moving out to base station on x86," said Bryant. "For years we talked about telcos being the dumb pipe, but this changes the game," letting them deliver new services.
SK Telecom is able to deliver content to handsets 50 percent faster while increasing the efficiency of its backhaul networks. "There are about 5 million base stations deployed worldwide and our job is to increase their intelligence with the Intel architecture," Bryant added.
Intel is pursuing similar opportunities in storage networks with existing and upcoming SoCs, accelerators, and software, Bryant said.
Meanwhile Facebook and other big datacenter operators want to redesign the rack server into a system that has flexible pools of processors, memory, and I/O. Intel showed some progress in that direction using its still unreleased 100G silicon photonics, announced last year.
Waxman showed a rack system packing three servers with two Xeon processors each. The servers were connected to a mezzanine card, apparently using PCI Express over Intel's 4x25G silicon photonics cables. The system used a single power supply.
He also showed a half-size processor plug in card, suitable for Avoton class chips or accelerators, but apparently not the more power-hungry Xeon chips. Facebook has said it wants to upgrade processors without needing to replace their associated memory and I/O components.
Such designs could raise server utilization from currently low rates of 50 percent or lower, which Bryant called "a crime." It's not clear when Intel could get to a future stage of creating pools of memory separate from the processor.
Separately, Waxman said Intel's Wind River division is working on low-level software to support software defined networks. Bryant said Intel is piloting SDN in its internal systems.