Chips are up for Intel despite media Meltdown over Spectre

26 Jan 2018

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich at CES 2017. Image: Intel Corporation

Tech giant plans to release chips with built-in protection from Meltdown and Spectre later this year.

Chip giant Intel reported fourth quarter revenues of $17.05bn, up 4pc on last year, beating analyst expectations and smoothly shrugging off the furore over the Meltdown and Spectre flaws discovered on chips.

In fact, the company said it will implement permanent changes in its processors to circumvent the security risks implied in the Spectre and Meltdown flaws discovered in most chips made by other manufacturers as well as Intel since 1995.

‘In 2018, our highest priorities will be executing to our data-centric strategy and meeting the commitments we make to our shareholders and our customers’

CEO Brian Krzanich said that new chips with built-in protections will start appearing later this year.

The bugs known as Spectre and Meltdown, which affect nearly all computers worldwide, leave PCs and phones vulnerable to attacks by hackers. So far, no breaches have been reported and software giants including Apple, Google and Microsoft have issued patches for device owners.

Intel in transition from world of PCs to a cloudy world of things

For the full year 2017, Intel reported revenues of $62.8bn, up 6pc on the previous year.

“2017 was a record year for Intel with record fourth-quarter results driven by strong growth of our data-centric businesses,” said Krzanich.

“The strategic investments we’ve made in areas like memory, programmable solutions, communications and autonomous driving are starting to pay off and expand Intel’s growth opportunity. In 2018, our highest priorities will be executing to our data-centric strategy and meeting the commitments we make to our shareholders and our customers.”

Despite Intel’s revenues rising, the company recorded a $687m quarterly loss after booking a $5.4bn charge due to recent changes to US tax law.

Nevertheless, Intel announced a 10pc rise on its annual dividend to $1.20 a share, which should keep shareholders sweet.

Intel’s transition from being PC-centric is going to plan and the company reported a surge in data-centric revenue – sales from cloud and data centre chips reached $3.5bn in 2017, up 37pc on the previous year. Sales from PC-centric chips were up 3pc to $34bn for the year.

Tellingly, chips focused on the internet of things market rose 37pc to $3.5bn for 2017, showing where Intel’s focus is on the future.

Intel CFO Bob Swan said that the chip giant’s transition from PC-centric to a data and IoT-centric player is on track.

“The fourth quarter was an outstanding finish to another record year. Compared to the expectations we set, our revenue was stronger, our operating margins were higher, and our spending was lower,” he said.

“Intel’s PC-centric business continued to execute well in a declining market while the growth of our data-centric businesses shows Intel’s transformation is on track.”

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