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Earnings

Intel earnings: What economic crisis?

Intel earnings: What economic crisis?
Intel
  • Q1 revenue: $19.8 billion (23% YoY, -2% QoQ, vs. $18.7 billion expected)
  • Q1 earnings: $5.7 billion (42% YoY, -17% QoQ, above expectations)
  • Q2 revenue guidance: $18.5 billion (below expectations)

The big number: Intel's Data Center Group produces 95% of the processors used in servers around the world, and that business is growing at a 43% clip. It recorded $7 billion in revenue during the quarter.

People are talking: "Over the last several years, we've transformed the company, and are now positioned to grow our share in the largest market opportunity in our history," CEO Bob Swan said on a conference call with analysts. "We live in a world where everything increasingly looks like a computer, including our homes, our cars, our cities, our hospitals and our factories."

Opportunities: Intel doesn't see any slowdown ahead for its primary data-center customers, the large cloud providers like AWS, Microsoft and Alibaba, especially given demand for cloud services as stay-at-home orders continue. The PC market is more uncertain: Swan said that PC orders were actually a little better than expected in the first quarter, as everyone started working from home, but that was offset by slower demand and supply chain disruption in China.

Threats: While China's electronics factories are getting back to work making PCs and servers, Intel employees are still trying to design next-generation products while sequestered, and that's difficult, Swan said. Intel has also been scrambling to catch up to its usual pace of manufacturing improvements after a delay last year, but Swan said that Intel expects to ship new server chips built with its next-generation manufacturing technology by the end of the year.

The power struggle: When times get tough, it's nice to have 95% market share in a market as valuable as server processors. Longtime rival AMD currently offers some of the most competitive offerings it's had in years, and server processors based on Arm's technology are turning heads, but while that enormous market-share lead might slip a bit, Intel isn't currently that worried. And analysts don't appear too worried about PC competition, either: No one on the call asked about reports earlier in the day that Apple plans to use its own chips, instead of Intel's, in laptops starting next year.

However, it definitely feels like a year when consumers and business PC buyers will decide to wring a little more life out of that old notebook. Intel always has its best quarter in the fourth quarter, thanks to the holiday shopping season: If unemployment reaches the heights some economists fear it might, that will have an impact.

Microsoft wants to replace artists with AI

Better Zoom calls, simpler email attachments, smart iPhone cases and other patents from Big Tech.

Turning your stories into images.

Image: USPTO/Microsoft

Hello and welcome to 2021! The Big Tech patent roundup is back, after a short vacation and … all the things … that happened between the start of the year and now. It seems the tradition of tech companies filing weird and wonderful patents has carried into the new year; there are some real gems from the last few weeks. Microsoft is trying to outsource all creative endeavors to AI; Apple wants to make seat belts less annoying; and Amazon wants to cut down on some of the recyclable waste that its own success has inevitably created.

And remember: The big tech companies file all kinds of crazy patents for things, and though most never amount to anything, some end up defining the future.

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Mike Murphy

Mike Murphy ( @mcwm) is the director of special projects at Protocol, focusing on the industries being rapidly upended by technology and the companies disrupting incumbents. Previously, Mike was the technology editor at Quartz, where he frequently wrote on robotics, artificial intelligence, and consumer electronics.

The current state-of-the-art quantum computers are a tangle of wires. And that can't be the case in the future.

Photo: IBM Research

The iconic image of quantum computing is the "Google chandelier," with its hundreds of intricately arranged copper wires descending like the tendrils of a metallic jellyfish. It's a grand and impressive device, but in that tangle of wires lurks a big problem.

"If you're thinking about the long-term prospects of quantum computing, that image should be just terrifying," Jim Clarke, the director of quantum hardware at Intel, told Protocol.

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Dan Garisto
Dan Garisto is a freelance science journalist who specializes in the physical sciences, with an emphasis on particle physics. He has an undergraduate degree in physics and is based in New York.
Politics

You may not know these tech Democrats. Now you need to.

These are the people who will be at the frontlines of the tech industry's efforts to influence an entirely new Washington.

Airbnb's Chris Lehane, Amazon's Jay Carney, Apple's Lisa Jackson and Uber's Tony West are tech Democrats you need to know now that Joe Biden is president-elect.

Image: Pupkin8r /Protocol

Now that Joe Biden has been elected to the presidency, it's time to update your contacts.

We're entering a new phase in Washington, and that means there are new power players who merit attention. Over the coming months, tech Democrats with ties to Bidenworld will help shape the future of the industry, one friendly phone call at a time.

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Emily Birnbaum

Emily Birnbaum ( @birnbaum_e) is a tech policy reporter with Protocol. Her coverage focuses on the U.S. government's attempts to regulate one of the most powerful industries in the world, with a focus on antitrust, privacy and politics. Previously, she worked as a tech policy reporter with The Hill after spending several months as a breaking news reporter. She is a Bethesda, Maryland native and proud Kenyon College alumna.

People

Why programs to diversify tech so often fall apart

Gabriela González, the deputy director of the Intel Foundation, says we need to rethink how we educate young girls about STEM.

The "Million Girls Moonshot" is a collaborative project to engage 1 million girls in STEM learning opportunities over the next five years.

Photo: Getty Images

The U.S. government, nonprofits, foundations and corporations for decades have poured millions of dollars into programs to attract more women and minorities into the STEM fields — often to little avail. So how does a new program hope to succeed where others have failed?

Gabriela González, the deputy director of the Intel Foundation, is helping to helm the "Million Girls Moonshot," a collaborative project with the Intel Foundation, the STEM Next Opportunity Fund, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and an array of community partners to engage 1 million girls in STEM learning opportunities over the next five years.

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Emily Birnbaum

Emily Birnbaum ( @birnbaum_e) is a tech policy reporter with Protocol. Her coverage focuses on the U.S. government's attempts to regulate one of the most powerful industries in the world, with a focus on antitrust, privacy and politics. Previously, she worked as a tech policy reporter with The Hill after spending several months as a breaking news reporter. She is a Bethesda, Maryland native and proud Kenyon College alumna.

Power

The Nvidia-Arm deal hasn't boosted RISC-V. But it soon could.

RISC-V International CEO Calista Redmond tells Protocol that the organization's open-source technology should have its iPhone moment in the next couple of years.

SiFive's HiFive1 development board contain a microcontroller based on RISC-V's chip architecture, one of a growing number of applications making use of the RISC-V open-source technology.

Photo: Gareth Halfacree/Flickr

When the umpire chooses a team, maybe it's time to look for a new umpire.

After Nvidia announced last week its plans to acquire Arm, the chip industry was turned upside down. Most large chip companies — save for Intel — license Arm's chip architecture in order to build their own hardware. Arm co-founder Hermann Hauser has an explanation for the company's runaway success: neutrality. Arm doesn't make its own chips, so it doesn't compete with its customers.

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Shakeel Hashim

Shakeel Hashim ( @shakeelhashim) is a growth manager at Protocol, based in London. He was previously an analyst at Finimize covering business and economics, and a digital journalist at News UK. His writing has appeared in The Economist and its book, Uncommon Knowledge.

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