Intel has poached a key executive from one of its chief rivals as it looks to make headway in the burgeoning Internet of Things (IoT) market.
The semiconductor giant, whose chips power most of today's servers and personal computers, said that Tom Lantzsch, currently executive vice president of corporate development at ARM, would become the new general manager of its IoT Group in January.
ARM Ltd. designs the processors used in most smartphones but has similarly been angling for a much bigger role in IoT since it was acquired by Japan's SoftBank Corp. in a £23.4 billion (US$29.2 billion, at today's exchange rates) takeover earlier this year. (See SoftBank Muscles In on ARM in $32B Deal.)
Lantzsch's appointment could reflect a growing recognition by Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) that ARM, in some respects, has the upper hand in this area.
In the mobile handset market, Intel has failed to mount a serious challenge to the UK company, which is highly regarded for the power efficiency of its designs. Having already reined in its mobile ambitions, the chip giant revealed in August that it would start licensing ARM's technology for some processes.
ARM's expertise at designing low-cost, low-power chips for mobile devices should translate well to the IoT market, where chips will need to power a whole range of small connected objects.
As revealed during last week's IoT World event in Dublin, ARM has also been working to develop new security capabilities for IoT devices. SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son reckons more than 1 trillion IoT devices will be deployed during the next decade, and ARM is prioritizing security to prevent sabotage and give IoT developers the confidence they need to move forward. (See ARM Takes Security Smarts Into IoT.)
Intel is certain to have offered Lantzsch a lucrative package to tempt him from ARM, where he has spent the past ten years of his career, according to his LinkedIn profile. [Editor's note: He'll probably cost an arm and a leg...]
Besides leading ARM's corporate development, Lantzsch is also a board member of networking testing company Spirent Communications. It is unclear whether joining Intel will affect that role.
The appointment was announced in a blog post by Murthy Renduchintala, the president of Intel's client and IoT businesses as well as the chipmaker's systems architecture group.
"He brings deep strategic and operational acumen, and he's grown businesses and fueled innovation," said Renduchintala. "He'll be an accelerant leader for Intel and our industry."
Doug Davis, the current general manager of Intel's IoT business, is moving into a new role as head of the just-created "autonomous driving group" (ADG), which will take charge of Intel's activities in the connected car market.
The company has recently highlighted the automotive sector as one of the most promising opportunities in the overall IoT space.
"You'll see products from Land Rover and a variety of other OEMs that are a mix of everything from autonomous driving programs to in-vehicle infotainment type systems," said Brian Krzanich, Intel's CEO, during a recent call with analysts about third-quarter results, according to this Seeking Alpha transcript.
In percentage terms, Intel's IoT division was the fastest-growing part of the business during that quarter, generating about $689 million in revenues -- 19% more than a year earlier.
CEO Brian Krzanich has expressed confidence that Intel will be able to sustain "double-digit" percentage growth in this business in future.
Intel's overall revenues for the third quarter came in at $15.9 billion -- a 9% increase on the year-earlier figure.
— Iain Morris, , News Editor, Light Reading