Intel nears nifty 50 as data centres revved up Q1 revenues

27 Apr 2018

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich at CES earlier this year. Image: Walden Kirsch/Intel Corporation

In a true sign that the power of computing has shifted from the desk to the cloud, Intel is nearing its 50th birthday with vigour and more than a little swagger.

Intel, which will be 50 in July, has reported a strong first quarter driven by significant growth in its data centre chip business.

The California computing giant, which was founded in July 1968 by Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce, reported record first-quarter revenues of $16.1bn, up 13pc on last year.

‘The strength of Intel’s business underscores my confidence in our strategy and the unrelenting demand for compute performance fuelled by the growth of data’

Future Human

CEO Brian Krzanich attributed the gains to surges in Intel’s data centre chip business.

“Coming off a record 2017, 2018 is off to a strong start,” Krzanich said.

“Our PC business continued to execute well and our data-centric businesses grew 25pc, accounting for nearly half of first-quarter revenue.

“The strength of Intel’s business underscores my confidence in our strategy and the unrelenting demand for compute performance fuelled by the growth of data.”

Hey Intel, you’re looking chipper for an almost 50-year-old!

Yep, that’s right, Intel will be 50 in July. For us here in Ireland, being part of that journey for almost 30 years was transformative for our economy and our place in the digital world.

Did you know that in the 1990s, when the PC wars were raging, more than half of the world’s supply of Pentium chips were made in Ireland?

The tradition is continuing with a considerable chunk of 14-nanometre (nm) chips consumed by the world also being made here in Ireland.

And, as Intel ramps up towards 10nm manufacturing, it is highly likely that Ireland may once again play a leading role in the chip giant’s future successes.

In its Q1 results, Intel said that it is currently shipping low-volume 10nm product and now expects 10nm volume production to shift to 2019.

The gold is in them thar data centres!

Analysing Q1, Intel saw a strong performance from data centres, with its data centre group seeing increasing adoption of Xeon Scalable processes, which play a role in AI workloads and more.

Revenues from data centre chips surged 49pc in Q1 while other groups – such as programmable solutions, field programmable gate array and internet of things (IoT) – also saw significant gains.

“Compared to the first-quarter expectations we set in January, revenue was higher, operating margins were stronger and earnings per share was better,” said Bob Swan, Intel CFO.

“Our data-centric strategy is accelerating Intel’s transformation, and we’re raising our earnings and cash flow expectations for the year.”

2020 vision is needed

Intel’s client computing group saw strong demand for the 8th Generation Intel Core i9 processor.

However, with unconfirmed rumours that Apple is planning to use its own chips in Mac computers from 2020 onwards, that could put an unwelcome dent in Intel’s prestige.

Intel is making big bets on autonomous vehicles

The self-driving car revolution is a space where Intel expects to be in the driving seat.

Intel said that Mobileye – the Israeli chip firm that it acquired last year for $15bn – continued momentum with automotive customers, and recently won a high-volume design for EyeQ 5.

The company also began operating autonomous vehicle test cars in Israel, with plans to expand the fleet to other geographies.

As it nears 50, Intel is clearly showing no signs of slowing down.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years