Intel Inks Olympics Sponsorship Tech Deal

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Intel Corp. announced on Wednesday it would become a major sponsor of the International Olympic Committee, making the chipmaker the latest technology company to put marketing dollars behind the global sporting event.

Intel and the International Olympic Committee said on Wednesday the chip maker will become a world-wide sponsor of the Olympic Games through 2024 in a partnership to bring technologies, such as 5G wireless technology, virtual reality, 360 videos and artificial intelligence to the Olympic viewing experience.

The efforts will start with the next Olympics in Pyeongchang in 2018, and go through to 2024.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed but IOC sources have previously said that major sponsors pay about $100 million per four-year cycle, which includes one summer and one winter games. The IOC has been looking to increase the cost of those deals.

IOC President Thomas Bach said the partnership is part of the committee’s push for the Olympics to embrace and use new technologies to enhance viewers’ experience as well as the future of sports.

“We’ll allow people online to feel like they are there,” IOC chief executive officer Brian Krzanich said, speaking at a press conference in New York.

Intel’s announcement comes one week after McDonald’s Corp. announced it would be ending its Olympics partnership after the 2018 Winter Games, three years before the agreement was set to expire. The fast food giant, which has been an Olympics partner since 1976, expressed a desire to focus on other opportunities.

Intel joins about a dozen global Olympics sponsors such as Coca-Cola, Samsung and most recently, Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba, which signed on six months ago. The IOC has been trying to make the Olympics more technologically savvy and appeal to younger people through its internet-based TV network, the Olympic Channel.

The rise of digital networks and new media technologies have made up that opportunity exponentially, with more ways presenting those coverages, and more ways to reach more sports fans. Intel working on developing more of these services will directly feed into expanding that machine.

“Intel’s vision is that building a better world is our business. Our vision is building a better world through sport,” said Bach. “So bringing together these two visions will allow us to make great progress with regard to experience through games, as well as promoting the values we are sharing.”

Intel has made a number of moves in the arena of sports to ramp up its involvement in sports as a target vertical for the company’s efforts in emerging areas like VR. They have included acquisitions of Voke VR for immersive sports technology; Replay Technologies for 3D video tech; providing a March Madness experience in VR, and helping provide tech for the X-Games in Aspen and the NBA All-Star Weekend.

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Nokia Rolls Out The World’s Fastest Routers

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Nokia rolled out the world’s fastest routers on Wednesday, giving its existing network business a boost and marking a breakthrough into the core router market dominated by rivals Juniper and Cisco.

The new traffic routers can handle the greater demands of virtual reality programming, cloud-based internet services and next-generation mobile communications, the Finnish company said.

They will also serve Nokia’s existing base of telecom operator customers who want speed, but still must contend with legacy gear needed to run existing services, as they are backward compatible with older products.

Nokia’s new products, which grew out of its 15.6 billion-euro ($17.5 billion) 2016 acquisition of Alcatel and its IP network gear business, should help it win business from companies such as Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon, for whom transmission speed is everything and who are still increasing spending on network gear, unlike its traditional base of telecoms customers.

“With this announcement, Nokia will have the highest-performance system capacity in the market, and a lot of those web-scalers, they just want speed,” said Ray Mota, a principal analyst, in an interview. “That gives them an opportunity to approach the core network market with more credibility and gain some traction there.”

Telecom operators’ capital spending is increasing by just 2-3% a year which means Nokia is turning to web-scale players whose spending on new network gear is rising by double-digits.

The former Alcatel IP networks business is already the world’s No. 2 player in edge routers behind Cisco, having displaced Juniper Networks, which is now No. 3.

Nokia’s Petabit-Class Routers

Nokia’s latest FP4 silicon chipset is capable of processing data at 2.4 terabits per second. It’s based on the FP3 chip Nokia already uses, but combines several of them into a single package. The new chipsets will be shipped in the fourth quarter, with routers running FP4 chips ready in the first quarter of next year.

These will be built into routers to operate both ultra high-speed “core” networks at the heart of the biggest internet services and also “edge” networks that connect datacenters to front-line customer services on mobile or fixed-line networks.

Pack several of these on the same circuit board and the end result is a line card capable of 12 Tbps. In a new router, these cards can handle six times the traffic of the model they replace, but according to Steve Vogelsang, CTO for Nokia’s IP and optical business, they can be put into routers up to 10 years old as well.

FP4 chips, which are manufactured for Nokia by Taiwan’s TSMC are designed using circuits as narrow as 16 nanometers apart, skipping 22- and 28-nanometer-sized circuits compared to the prior FP3 processor built at 40-nanometer scale, Nokia said.

Nokia is introducing the 7950 petabit-class router aimed at the core routing market to help it win business from customers such as Apple and Facebook. A petabit can transmit 5,000 two-hour-long high-definition videos every second. For edge network customers, Nokia is introducing its 7750 router, offering the highest traffic capacity on the market.

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