It is the first time the world’s second largest chipmaker disclosed revenue from the fast growing computing segment.
Intel has increasingly been depending on its sales to data centres, which provide behind-the-scenes computing power for mobile and web-based apps. Those apps, in turn, rely on artificial intelligence for features like photo and speech recognition.
At an event for Wall Street analysts at Intel’s Santa Clara, California headquarters to explain its strategy, Navin Shenoy, its data centre chief, said the company has been able to modify its CPUs to become more than 200 times better at artificial intelligence training over the past several years. This resulted in $1 billion in sales of its Xeon processors for such work in 2017, when the company’s overall revenue was $62.8 billion.
“The step-function increase in performance led to a meaningful business impact for us,” Shenoy told the audience.
Naveen Rao, head of Intel’s artificial intelligence products group, said the $1 billion estimate was derived from customers that told Intel they were buying chips for artificial intelligence and from calculations of how much of a customer’s data centre is dedicated to such work.
In fact, he thinks the number is a bit higher.