Intel Capital, the in-house arm of the world's biggest chipmaker, has seeded seven small companies in hopes they will swell into profitable ventures. The move comes a month after Intel announced its $300 million Ultrabook initiative for tablets and ultralight products.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company invested a total of $24 million, including some follow-on stakes. The idea is that the companies will devise products Intel can use or perhaps acquire as it has for scores of chipmakers for nearly 40 years.

These investments in best-of-breed software vendors play an exclusive play an integral part in Intel's software strategy, said Arvind Sodhani, president of Intel Capital and EVP of Intel. Intel announced the investments at Microsoft's designers conference in Anaheim, Calif.

Among the new investments is DynamicOps, which has an Operations Virtualization platform for enterprises. The Burlington, Mass.-based company's software already works with Intel's CloudBuilder program for cloud computing.

Another investment went to enLighted, which develops intelligent lighting fixtures. The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company targets the so-called intelligent building sector. Intel has long promoted energy efficiency.

A third new investment is Guavus, a data analysis developer in Santa Clara, which specializes in analytics. Guavus clearly appears to be targeting offerings against the giants in data bases, including IBM and Oracle.

Swirve New Media of San Francisco specializes in software for gaming in the cloud as well as social media; the year-old company works with Intel's visual computing software.

Gaiki, a Los Angeles-based gaming service, streams 3-D video games directly to a Web browser. Revolution Analytics, of Palo Alto, Calif., works with open source statistical computing known as the R project. It works with Intel's programs for parallel processing.

Sodhani didn't break out how much was invested in each company.

Intel Capital has seeded more than $10 billion in 1,140 companies over the past 20 years. Nearly 200 have had IPOs and 268 were acquired outright.

Intel reported cash and short-term investments exceeding $11.5 billion as of July 2.