Intel CEO Brian Krzanich had the leadoff spot in the lineup of big name CES 2016 keynotes and used the opportunity to highlight Intel’s work with just about everything except PCs. However, absent from Krzanich’s presentation was any mention of car tech, which is notable since the transformation of cars into self-driving, mobile entertainment centers is a major theme this year. No less than 9 automakers and dozens of suppliers will be occupying 200,000 square feet, up 25% over last year, to show off products this year. In this column I posit that Intel could be repeating the mistakes of omission that cost it in mobile.
Ignoring car tech in a high-profile keynote, even as Intel’s competitors were making major announcements, was a mistake and casts doubt on the company’s strategy in this important, emerging market. One wonders whether Intel is repeating the mistakes it made in mobile and letting another big market slip into the hands of competitors like NVIDIA and Qualcomm. NVIDIA’s next-generation car computer, DRIVE PX 2, was particularly impressive. By combining four GPUs capable of trillions of the neural network calculations used in deep learning algorithms crucial to autonomous driving, with the ability to process data from dozens of sensors, including cameras, lidar (laser-based distance sensors), radar and ultrasonic in a package the size of a lunchbox.
I detail other notable car tech from CES in the column and question Intel’s commitment to this market ripe for technological disruption. Given the vast market potential, with a record 17.5 million vehicles sold last year and the average age of cars on the road at generational highs, one would expect Intel to be fighting to reproduce its PC platform dominance in such a large, untapped market. Although disappointed that Krzanich didn’t use his CES megaphone to espouse Intel’s car tech vision, it’s possible the company has other venues in mind for a major announcement given that it does have an automotive group and product line. It will be interesting to see if there’s an Intel Inside logo on future autonomous vehicles or whether, like the smartphone, the company misses another emerging market.