Power

Intel outside: Manufacturing delays hit the chip company once again

For a long period of time, Intel was the most advanced chip manufacturing company on the planet. Those days are over, after the company announced Thursday that it won't be able to ship chips using state-of-the-art technology until late next year.

Intel headquarters

AMD, as well as companies building chips around the Arm instruction set — like Apple and AWS — will enjoy years during which they offer the most powerful and power efficient chips on the market.

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Intel is in trouble.

The next generation of the iconic company's once-vaunted chip-manufacturing technology will be delayed, again, following extended delays to the rollout of its current chip-manufacturing technology. Intel is attempting to build next-generation chips using a 7-nanometer processing technology, a feat that most of its rivals in the chip-making game have achieved, but CEO Bob Swan said in Intel's second-quarter earnings release Thursday that customers should not expect those chips until late 2022 at the earliest.

This means AMD, as well as companies building chips around the Arm instruction set — like Apple and AWS — will enjoy years during which they offer the most powerful and power efficient chips on the market. AMD's second-generation Epyc server chips, built on a 7-nanometer manufacturing process, have been available for almost a year, and AWS' head-turning Graviton chips were also built on a 7-nanometer process.

For context, a single human hair is around 80,000 nanometers wide. Intel's 7-nanometer problem is that it isn't seeing the yields it would expect from a normal manufacturing process, or the number of good, working chips that can be cut from a silicon wafer.

The smaller the manufacturing process, the more transistors you can fit on an expensive piece of silicon real estate, which makes for a more powerful chip. Back in the 1960s, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore advanced a dictum that would come to be known as Moore's law: that the number of transistors that could possibly fit on a silicon die of a given size would double roughly every 18 to 24 months.

Amazingly, Intel made that proclamation come true for more than 40 years, but the challenges of building structures that approach the size of individual atoms have proven very difficult for the company over the back half of the last decade. The years during which Intel dictated silicon manufacturing trends would appear to be over.

It's now easier to understand why Apple would be willing to bet on Arm chips for the Mac; a strategically important customer like Apple has years of visibility into Intel's road maps. Taiwan's TSMC, a major supplier to many chip designers, has been shipping 7-nanometer Arm chips for quite some time and is getting ready to start making chips based on a 5-nanometer manufacturing process, which Intel won't duplicate for a very long time.

Swan said during a call with investors that Intel would start looking at using other manufacturing companies to build its own chip designs, a once unthinkable suggestion for a senior Intel executive to make.

Thanks to its monopoly position in both PC and server processors, however, Intel recorded second-quarter revenue of $19.7 billion, up 20% compared to last year. Investors, who no longer hear Intel talk about Moore's law in every presentation for some reason, sent its stock down 10% in after-hours trading.

Updated: This posted was updated at 5:30 p.m. PT to include more information from the earnings call.

Policy

Google is wooing a coalition of civil rights allies. It’s working.

The tech giant is adept at winning friends even when it’s not trying to immediately influence people.

A map display of Washington lines the floor next to the elevators at the Google office in Washington, D.C.

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

As Google has faced intensifying pressure from policymakers in recent years, it’s founded trade associations, hired a roster of former top government officials and sometimes spent more than $20 million annually on federal lobbying.

But the company has also become famous in Washington for nurturing less clearly mercenary ties. It has long funded the work of laissez-faire economists who now defend it against antitrust charges, for instance. It’s making inroads with traditional business associations that once pummeled it on policy, and also supports think tanks and advocacy groups.

Keep Reading Show less
Ben Brody

Ben Brody (@ BenBrodyDC) is a senior reporter at Protocol focusing on how Congress, courts and agencies affect the online world we live in. He formerly covered tech policy and lobbying (including antitrust, Section 230 and privacy) at Bloomberg News, where he previously reported on the influence industry, government ethics and the 2016 presidential election. Before that, Ben covered business news at CNNMoney and AdAge, and all manner of stories in and around New York. He still loves appearing on the New York news radio he grew up with.

Sustainability. It can be a charged word in the context of blockchain and crypto – whether from outsiders with a limited view of the technology or from insiders using it for competitive advantage. But as a CEO in the industry, I don’t think either of those approaches helps us move forward. We should all be able to agree that using less energy to get a task done is a good thing and that there is room for improvement in the amount of energy that is consumed to power different blockchain technologies.

So, what if we put the enormous industry talent and minds that have created and developed blockchain to the task of building in a more energy-efficient manner? Can we not just solve the issues but also set the standard for other industries to develop technology in a future-proof way?

Keep Reading Show less
Denelle Dixon, CEO of SDF

Denelle Dixon is CEO and Executive Director of the Stellar Development Foundation, a non-profit using blockchain to unlock economic potential by making money more fluid, markets more open, and people more empowered. Previously, Dixon served as COO of Mozilla. Leading the business, revenue and policy teams, she fought for Net Neutrality and consumer privacy protections and was responsible for commercial partnerships. Denelle also served as general counsel and legal advisor in private equity and technology.

Workplace

Everything you need to know about tech layoffs and hiring slowdowns

Will tech companies and startups continue to have layoffs?

It’s not just early-stage startups that are feeling the burn.

Photo: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Images via Getty Images

What goes up must come down.

High-flying startups with record valuations, huge hiring goals and ambitious expansion plans are now announcing hiring slowdowns, freezes and in some cases widespread layoffs. It’s the dot-com bust all over again — this time, without the cute sock puppet and in the midst of a global pandemic we just can’t seem to shake.

Keep Reading Show less
Nat Rubio-Licht

Nat Rubio-Licht is a Los Angeles-based news writer at Protocol. They graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in newspaper and online journalism in May 2020. Prior to joining the team, they worked at the Los Angeles Business Journal as a technology and aerospace reporter.

Entertainment

Sink into ‘Love, Death & Robots’ and more weekend recs

Don’t know what to do this weekend? We’ve got you covered.

Our favorite picks for your weekend pleasure.

Image: A24; 11 bit studios; Getty Images

We could all use a bit of a break. This weekend we’re diving into Netflix’s beautifully animated sci-fi “Love, Death & Robots,” losing ourselves in surreal “Men” and loving Zelda-like Moonlighter.

Keep Reading Show less
Nick Statt

Nick Statt is Protocol's video game reporter. Prior to joining Protocol, he was news editor at The Verge covering the gaming industry, mobile apps and antitrust out of San Francisco, in addition to managing coverage of Silicon Valley tech giants and startups. He now resides in Rochester, New York, home of the garbage plate and, completely coincidentally, the World Video Game Hall of Fame. He can be reached at nstatt@protocol.com.

Workplace

This machine would like to interview you for a job

Companies are embracing automated video interviews to filter through floods of job applicants. But interviews with a computer screen raise big ethical questions and might scare off candidates.

Although automated interview companies claim to reduce bias in hiring, the researchers and advocates who study AI bias are these companies’ most frequent critics.

Photo: Johner Images via Getty Images

Applying for a job these days is starting to feel a lot like online dating. Job-seekers send their resume into portal after portal and a silent abyss waits on the other side.

That abyss is silent for a reason and it has little to do with the still-tight job market or the quality of your particular resume. On the other side of the portal, hiring managers watch the hundreds and even thousands of resumes pile up. It’s an infinite mountain of digital profiles, most of them from people completely unqualified. Going through them all would be a virtually fruitless task.

Keep Reading Show less
Anna Kramer

Anna Kramer is a reporter at Protocol (Twitter: @ anna_c_kramer, email: akramer@protocol.com), where she writes about labor and workplace issues. Prior to joining the team, she covered tech and small business for the San Francisco Chronicle and privacy for Bloomberg Law. She is a recent graduate of Brown University, where she studied International Relations and Arabic and wrote her senior thesis about surveillance tools and technological development in the Middle East.

Latest Stories
Bulletins