INTEL FLOGS A LOT OF PROCESSORS, but its artificial intelligence (AI) chips are making it some big bucks; an estimated $1bn in 2017.
While it may have lost the semiconductor crown to Samsung thanks to the somewhat less than surging PC market, Intel's work on AI-powering hardware seems to be working out nicely for the chipmaker.
Intel touted its AI chip prowess at an event for people who aren't fun at parties Wall Street analysts, where it explained its corporate strategy. The AI chip surge was driven by sales of its Xeon CPUs selected for driving AI workloads, thanks to tweaks to the processors to make then better at powering AI training.
The billion dollar figure is impressive, but Naveen Rao, head of Intel's AI product group, told Reuters that the chipmaker has been conservative with its AI chip flogging estimates.
"Honestly, it's probably a lot higher. We left a lot on the table because we wanted to be conservative," said Rao.
This is likely because customers buy Xeon chips for data centre uses, a big breadwinner for Intel, and it's not always crystal clear how much of the chips' work is being dedicated to AI workloads or more traditional data centre-centric tasks.
In some ways, this doesn't matter because Intel is enjoying the fruits of its labours. That's handy given its stock took a tumble last month after it missed the earnings expectations of the Wall Street types, and it still hasn't produced a 10nm chip ready for wide-spread use.
Of course, this AI success for Intel could be fleeting as it faces some heavy competition in the arena, notably from Nvidia with its AI tech, but also a bevvy of startups who are focussed on hardware dedicated to powering AI. µ
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