PAX AUS 2017: Intel’s Glen Boatwright Talks Project Alloy, overclocking and what it takes to build gaming-worthy tech

When it comes to gaming events like the recent PAX Australia 2017, Intel - both in their broader brand and their products - are almost-omnipresent in the tech-world. Everywhere you look, Intel is involved. The company’s i5, i7 and i9 processors are a critical ingredient to pretty much every gaming notebook or desktop out there. Be it branded Razer, ROG, Legion, Omen, MSI or Alienware.

Even if AMD have mounted a strong offensive with their Ryzen chipsets in the last year, Intel are still at the top of their game - launching their eighth-gen processors and announcing new SSD and an integrated graphics partnership with Nvidia.

We spoke to Intel Australia and New Zealand’s Business Development Manager Glen Boatwright to talk about what’s next.

How important are events like PAX to building Intel’s brand?

“Intel loves PAX because we get to showcase our high-end products.”

“It’s the gaming enthusiasts who really drive our development efforts for those top spec PCs, so it’s important that we are close to this community to be able to listen to them and give them what they want, especially as VR and other forms of gaming become more mainstream.”

You’ve just announced the eight-gen processors. How has the initial response/ demand been?

“Intel’s 8th Gen Core processors offer more cores and more performance out of each core, so the reviews and market response has been exceptional. Everyone wants them!.”

You’ve also got that new NPU. What possibilities does that open-up for gaming?

“The Intel Nervana Neural Network Processor (NNP), is specifically designed for AI and optimised for deep learning applications. It’s built for broad commercial enterprise use, which could include the gaming industry.”

“There’s a growing overlap of AI and gaming but we are still in the early days of understanding the benefits that will be gained from this interplay.” 

“One example is that Artificial Intelligence is being used to understand esports gaming by finding out what type of gamer you are and what you need to improve on. At the top of the esports league it’s these insights that could make all the difference.”

Intel was represented in gaming panel at this year’s PAX Australia. What do you think is the most important thing to keep in mind when designing tech for gamers?

“Customisation is essential for gamers who want to keep on the cutting edge of innovation and design, which is why we give them the option to upgrade regularly. The difference between console and desktop gaming is that you can tweak your PC a hundred different ways to keep up with the high complexity of the gaming software.”

“It’s also important to keep in mind the increase of mega-tasking in gaming. Streaming and downloading at the same time requires bandwidth, and bandwidth is all about cores. The more cores you have to play with, the better off you are.  With the introduction of the Intel 8th Gen Core processors we’ve put six cores in the mainstream Core i7 and i5 processors, giving gamers the best performance experience and the headroom to try streaming.”

Are RGB lights really all that?

“Yes! Although it does depend on what type of gamer you are. If you’re going to spend good money on your gaming performance, many people want their PC to look good and be a showpiece. Some gamers prefer raw performance and an understated setup, but most want their PC to look like a hot rod car with RGB adding that extra layer of excitement. The days of the beige desktop are well gone, and RGB is what it’s all about.”

I’ve read that Intel worked with Google to build the Pixel 2’s AI chip. Is that true? Is that something you’re open to doing with other vendors?

“We do work with companies to develop their hardware, and software for that hardware, but I cannot disclose any more information at this time.”

Project Alloy. What happened?

“Project Alloy served as a great proof of concept for Intel and the industry – showing what’s possible in a high-performance, immersive and untethered VR experience. What we’ve learned through Project Alloy will inform future efforts.”

“Though Intel has decided to wind down its Project Alloy reference design, we will continue to invest in the development of technologies to power next-generation AR/VR experiences such as Movidius for visual processing, Intel RealSense depth sensing and six degrees of freedom (6DoF) solutions, and other enabling technologies including Intel WiGig, Thunderbolt, and Intel Optane. Each of these solutions are supported by a robust portfolio of software capabilities, and we’re building out a VR support ecosystem, from software design kits to reference designs, to spur innovation that’s enabling rich and immersive content.”

Is overclocking becoming more common? It feels like unlocked Intel cores are being a more common inclusion, especially in gaming laptops?

“Yes, and Australia is at the forefront of overclocking. The 8th Gen Core processors have been designed with overclocking in mind. Gamers can use air, rather than water to overclock, while the extreme overclockers are using liquid nitrogen to break world records, as seen at PAX Australia last weekend.”

“We’re trying to make overclocking easier to encourage first-timers to give it a go. Intel’s unlocked processors (X and K skus) give gamers the ability to overclock, but a lot of people are nervous about breaking their technology. For this reason, Intel offers the Performance Tuning Protection Plan, for a one-time overclock experience; it’s piece of mind for your CPU.”

This year has been a big year for AMD. Has the arrival of Ryzen changed the way that you’re approaching customers? How?

“We take our competition seriously, but we always maintain our focus on innovation and will continue to raise the bar.”

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Tags intelPaxPAX AustraliaPAX Aus 2017PAX Australia 2017Gamer TechIntel Project Alloy

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Fergus Halliday

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