Like Water for Fish: Intel’s Elemental Support for Developers



At Intel Innovation 2022, CEO Pat Gelsinger reiterated his “unwavering support” for an open ecosystem and how the company is intent on developing “future technologies in the open.” Gelsinger’s keynote focused on solving real-world developer challenges. At the same event, CTO Greg Lavender offered details on how Intel invests time, expertise, and engineers to help developers increase productivity and improve time-to-value.  

Image: Innovation Keynote 

Developers are the fast-moving force behind the software that makes our world run. I’ve been a developer my entire professional life and have been thinking about how to better support and enable them.  

How do Intel’s community contributions impact and help developers in their work?  

My mental framework is what I like to call “fish and water.” Let me explain. 

Fish need water to survive. The water must be the right temperature, pH, salinity, clarity, mineral content, etc. The fish’s entire existence is in the water. It surrounds them. It is their habitat. But the fish are never aware of the very water that supports and enables their survival. To a certain degree, they take it for granted. However, as anyone who has ever maintained a freshwater or, even more so, a saltwater aquarium knows, fish will prosper given the right water conditions. You must monitor the basic water environmental parameters such as temperature and pH levels. You need to add in the right minerals and nutrients to help the fish thrive. It takes intentional effort to keep the water at optimal conditions, bolstering the fish’s prosperity.  

Developers are like fish. There is a basic environment in which they do their work. But when that environment, like the water, is optimized, when it’s bolstered with the best tools, the best documentation, the best sample code, the best community, that’s when the developer, like the fish, thrives.  They are nurtured by their surroundings, the elements that allow them to do their best work leading to the best software.​ 

Intel is like the water. We are omnipresent in the computing world – cloud, network, edge. We’ve optimized open source code and drivers in dozens of communities for decades to ensure that applications run in the most optimal and efficient manner. We’ve built a broad tool suite to enable and ease developer challenges. Intel employs many community maintainers who work across large and small projects.​ If you think Intel is only a hardware company, take a deeper dive into some of the prominent projects in the community where we are deeply engaged. 

Much of Intel’s developer support work happens behind the scenes, often unbeknownst to the very developers who use the code, just like fish. It starts with the very basics such as Linux* enablement and optimizations. We have been a top corporate contributor to Linux kernel for over a decade. We are one of the regular contributors to OpenJDK*. This is where we work in optimizing the just-in-time (JIT) compiler, improving cryptography, checksum, and hashing algorithm, and bring explicit data parallel programming to vector API optimizations. This work is done in the main branch which means these optimizations are available in all downstream distros, including Oracle JDK*, Amazon Corretto*, and Eclipse Adoptium, just to name a few. It encompasses numerous contributions to cloud native projects across the board, like Kubernetes*, Envoy*, Cilium*, and many others.  

We’re one of the top 10 contributors to Kubernetes. We have made decades-long contributions to LLVM* so that we can optimize C/C++ compilers for Intel architecture. These contributions include Python* data science optimizations in NumPy*, SciPy*  scikit-learn* (sklearn), and more. Intel oneAPI libraries such as Intel® oneAPI Deep Neural Network Library (oneDNN), Intel® oneAPI Data Analytics Library (oneDAL), and Intel® oneAPI Collective Communications Library (oneCCL) drive optimizations into a wide range of artificial intelligence and machine learning frameworks such as TensorFlow*. Intel now has the ownership of Windows Native CPU builds in Tensorflow.   

I could go on and on across many projects. But it all comes down to ensuring that the open ecosystem, or water, stays healthy for the developers, or fish, to thrive.  

Our fundamental goal is to nurture developers with the tools, code, and content that streamline their work and enable their very best results. Intel is deeply committed to the mission of making developers flourish. 

I welcome your thoughts as well as suggestions on where and how Intel can better support developers. You’ll find me on Twitter @ArunGupta and on LinkedIn

About the author  

Arun Gupta
Vice President and General Manager, Open.Intel 

Dedicated to growing the open ecosystem at Intel, Arun is a strategist, advocate, and practitioner who has spent two decades helping companies such as Apple* and Amazon* embrace open source principles. He is currently chairperson of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation Governing Board