Editor’s Opinion: A Culture of Information
As an aside to today's announcement, I had a few thoughts on how Intel releases product information. Seeing as this ventures closer to opinion/editorial than news & analysis, I felt it best not to mix it up with the key facts of the Whiskey/Amber Lake announcements. Nonetheless, I wanted to share my thoughts to give everyone a bit more insight into how information sharing has been changing over the past few years.
For readers that regularly follow us, you will note that with each and every generation, Intel has been less than forthcoming with details about new launches. In some aspects, such as the enterprise team, that trend is slowly reversing, but for this launch, almost all the technical info came in two slides, and for most of the specifications we had to request follow-up questions. The data we used to get in a slide deck in previous years has now been relegated to ‘ask if you care about it’, which is a worrying policy from my point of view.
For example, if you are wondering where information on the integrated graphics is, well, we’re waiting on it because it wasn’t provided in the group briefing. Info such as the name of the integrated graphics (UHD xxx), number of execution units, base frequencies, turbo frequencies – all of which used to be standard fare in previous generations. As did the per-core turbo frequencies. We also ask for new information these days as our understanding of products increases, such as PL2 data.
Perhaps the best example of how Intel has changed is that Intel didn't even disclose information on the underlying microarchitecture or manufacturing node until it was asked. Information that used to be at the forefront of a presentation has been replaced with marketing, and said information is now left at the end.
This isn’t a direct attack on Intel - we are constantly engaging with the people we speak to at the company on the way that they disclose materials like this, encouraging them to be more forthcoming on day one, as the company used to be. The differences between notebook, desktop, and enterprise disclosure are down to the different product teams deciding individually what to disclose, rather than a common disclosure set running through the whole company.
Intel’s reaction to this, from the people we speak to, has always been one of co-operation. They have been honest when they are told they can’t disclose information, even if we ask every time because the information is arguably trivial to obtain elsewhere (we would rather Intel was the source, given that it is Intel’s product). The way Intel is going about the marketing message for these new platforms is similar to that of how Intel marks new generations of products: people aren’t interested in names, or specific features. This is why we now have multiple manufacturing nodes and microarchitectures all under the ‘8th Generation’ branding. Products are sold on capabilities and user experiences, not in the fine minutiae of technical specifications – and this I do not doubt.
However Intel has historically been a company that has delved deep into details consistently over the years, and that seems to be fading – for a company that takes pride in its engineering, it would be great to offer engineering details to the customers and analysts that track its progress.