The way that Intel Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Sean Maloney talked up energy efficiency at the Cleantech Forum in San Francisco this afternoon, one could easily have mistaken the world’s largest chip maker for a firm tinkering with the power grid. But there are connections between microprocessors and energy consumption — Maloney said that computing power is now cheap enough to be able to help old-skool industries like manufacturing, construction and transportation do the bulk of their design processes virtually, cutting the energy expended to create physical models.
Maloney explained to a group of reporters before the speech that he realized the power of using software and computing to design goods through Intel’s largely virtualized design processes of its chips. He went on to say that more architects need to use widely available simulation software on regular PCs to design buildings with less physical models (which take energy to produce), as well as being able to include energy-efficient aspects of the building within the design from the beginning.
To be sure, the chip maker doesn’t produce building design or product design software — but such a move on the part of architects would help proliferate Intel’s chief business: chips. Basically the more computing power used, the more chips Intel sells. The indirect strategy is not unlike Google’s investments in broadband technology, whereby the more Internet users there are in the world, the more people will search using Google.
So why is Intel pushing the manufacturing, transportation and construction industries to use more computing now? Maloney says that with the passage of the stimulus bill, and similar measures in other countries, the world’s governments will be injecting trillions into those three industries, creating jobs and projects. Intel is lobbying governments around the world to help them allocate the funds effectively by promoting efficient computing-based design processes, according to Maloney. Will the infrastructure boom from the stimulus deliver a boost to the semiconductor biz? Intel hopes so.