develop a new chip category that Intel hopes will become a key seller in the burgeoning cloud computing sector.

The new chip, dubbed Mount Evans, will be sold to companies other than Google and reflects the way cloud computing providers work. They construct massive data centres full of powerful physical computers and then sell virtual slices of those machines to other businesses, allowing them to obtain a better return on investment than if they built the equipment themselves.

Setting up virtual machines and sending customer data to the correct place are essentially overhead expenditures for cloud providers. The Mount Evans chip, termed a “infrastructure processing unit” (IPU) by Google and Intel, separates these activities from the core computational processes and speeds them up.

This increases the data center’s flexibility while simultaneously ensuring the security of such functions against hackers.

“We see this as strategically vital. It`s an extremely important area for us and for the data center,” Nick McKeown, senior vice president of the network and edge group at Intel, told.

Intel is not the only player making infrastructure chips. Nvidia Corp and Marvell Technology Inc have similar but slightly different offerings.

But Intel and Google are working together on a set of software tools that will be released for free in hopes of making Intel`s version of the chip a broader industry standard used beyond Google`s data centers.

Amin Vahdat, a Google fellow and vice president of engineering, said Google is hoping to spur a technology trend that makes it easier for all data center operators to be more flexible about how they slice up their physical computer servers into virtual ones to suit whatever computing task is at hand.

“The basic question of what is a server is going to go beyond what`s inside the sheet metal. The IPU is going to play a central role there,” Vahdat told.