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Intel reveals it sold $1 billion of AI chips in 2017

Intel sold $1 billion (roughly £775 million) of artificial intelligence (AI) processor chips in 2017, the company announced on Wednesday.

Since PC sales have declined steadily in the last six years globally, the company has turned a substantial part of its sales efforts to data centres, which provide computing power for mobile and web-based apps. Those apps rely on AI for photo advanced features and speech recognition.

However, it has been noted that, as far as AI is concerned, Nvidia is currently ‘unstoppable’. This because Nvidia’s graphical processors would be better suited to “training” AI computer models than the central processor units (CPUs), such as the ones Intel have been manufacturing for years.

Despite this, Intel seems to be up for the challenge. At an event for Wall Street analysts at Intel’s Santa Clara in California last week, Navin Shenoy, its data centre chief, announced the company has been able to modify its CPUs to become more than 200 times better at AI training over the past several years.

“The step-function increase in performance led to a meaningful business impact for us,” Shenoy told the audience.

And in fact, these new advancements in AI technology earned the American tech giant a $1 billion in sales of Intel Xeon processors 2017, when the company’s overall revenue was $62.8 billion (roughly £48 billion).

“Honestly, it’s probably a lot higher,” said Naveen Rao, head of Intel’s artificial intelligence products group about the $1 billion estimate during an interview with Reuters, “we left a lot on the table because we wanted to be conservative”.

The news of Intel’s AI figures is significative because it comes after the company’s stock dropped last month after it delivered earnings that were below Wall Street’s expectations for its data centre business. The company also said then its new chips would hit the market only in 2020, leading analysts to worry it will lose data centre share to competitors.

“Intel must be very confident in its (artificial intelligence) roadmap and future performance, given it committed to a revenue number, as analysts will ask them every quarter about it,” said analyst and former chip executive Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy.

As Samsung recently announced its plan to invest $22 billion (roughly £17 billion) in AI, are this figures from Intel promising enough to bring the American tech giant back on the first place in the race for AI development?

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BY SHACK15

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