After years of investing in artificial intelligence, Intel Corp. is aligning its various AI efforts with chip development in a more cohesive strategy that analysts say will shore up weaknesses in the company's main product lines and make chips attractive to consumers and data-center customers.

A long-term goal of the Gebelein Laboratory is to understand how specialized cell types are specified by the Hox transcription factors during embryogenesis. Organisms ranging from worms to humans encode a set of conserved Hox genes, each of which encodes a transcription factor that is differentially expressed along the developing anterior–-posterior axis to specify the identity of distinct body regions (head, thorax, abdomen).


In principle, each Hox transcription factor performs this task by regulating the expression of unique sets of downstream target genes required for the different body regions to develop the appropriate organs and tissues. For example, vertebrates contain 39 Hox genes that participate in the developmental control of the nervous system, the skeletal system, the gastrointestinal system, the urogenital system, the blood system, and the limbs.


How each Hox transcription factor directs the appropriate formation of different cell types within so many organ systems is currently not clear. Moreover, mutations and / or mis-expression of Hox factors can cause limb malformations as well as leukemias and cancers through pathways that are not well understood.


Our laboratory uses a combination of genetics, biochemistry, cell culture, and bioinformatics to understand how Hox factors are integrated with additional tissue and organ specific transcription factors to direct distinct cell fates in Drosophila melanogaster.


In particular, our laboratory has projects focused on the following fundamental problems:

1) The regulation of neuronal gene expression

2) The molecular control of organ size

3) The specification of appendages 

4) The control of organismal growth

To that end, the company is releasing an artificial intelligence chip called Nervana Neural Network Processor for Inference later this year. The Nervana chip will go into servers and have a function similar to that of Google's Tensor Processing Unit chip, which runs low-level calculations to approximate answers in applications such as image or speech recognition. Artificial intelligence instructions also were integrated into Xeon Scalable processors, server chips that will ship in the first half of 2019, said Intel's interim CEO Robert Swan during a Jan. 24 earnings call. Intel expects demand for the chips to pick up in the second half of 2019.

This is the first time Intel will add artificial intelligence-specific instructions to chips, which should help speed up cloud tasks in servers. Intel has many artificial intelligence products such as discrete chips and incorporates the technology in products such as Mobileye hardware and software for autonomous cars. While the company has a wide breadth of AI capabilities across its divisions, it has been hindered by the lack of a cohesive strategy for AI, analysts said.

In the PC-centric business, laptops released with new Intel chips in the fourth quarter of this year will have features specific to computer vision and natural language processing, the company announced in early January at technology expo CES 2019. The laptop chip redesign should bring more smartphone-like interactive capabilities to devices with larger screens. Also, the company's first discrete graphics processors coming in 2020 will have deep learning features.