While Intel recorded record revenue for the fourth quarter of 2021, Intel chief executive Pat Gelsinger said that chip shortages will persist throughout 2022 and into next year.
Looking across the industry, 2021 was dominated by two recurring themes, unprecedented demand, and ecosystem supply constraints, Gelsinger said.
Intel reported record revenue for the quarter—US$20.5 billion, up 3 percent from a year ago, on US$4.6 billion in profits. But the company's Client Computing Group (CCG) reported sales that fell 7 percent to US$10.1 billion. Supply constraints hit Intel's PC customers, lowering their ability to ship PCs. Notebook revenue fell 16 percent, though desktop revenue helped offset it, growing 19 percent.
This [the constraints] was most acutely felt in the client market, particularly in notebooks, Gelsinger told analysts. But constraints have widely impacted other markets including automotive, the Internet of Things and the data center. As we predicted, these ecosystem constraints are expected to persist through 2022 and into 2023. With incremental improvements over this period, the industry will continue to see challenges in a variety of areas, including specialty and overall foundries shortages, substrates, as well as third party silica.
Gelsinger also named power controllers, display LED controllers, and different component pieces as other areas where shortages are a concern.
With that said, Gelsinger said Intel is well positioned to navigate the market, given that the company has always emphasized building chips from its own fabs. The company said this week that it plans to build a new megafab complex in Ohio, though the plan is to build the structure, or shells, and then add manufacturing equipment later. According to Gelsinger, the company's manufacturing roadmap that it outlined last year is still on track.
Gelsinger said Intel shipped 100 million units of its 11th-gen Tiger Lake chips, and he said that its 12th-gen Alder Lake chips are now shipping to 140 customers in 30 countries. Later this year Intel will ship Raptor Lake, a chip that has already successfully booted within Intel's labs. Intel's George Davis, the former chief financial officer who is now serving as an executive adviser, said that Intel was seeing a shift in demand from the consumer and entry-level PC into what we call the Big Core notebook and our desktop…which really dropped off, and now we're seeing kind of a strong recovery there.
The foundation of Intel's success was its Data Center Group, which houses its Xeon processors. Intel's Gelsinger said that the number of Xeon chips Intel shipped in December outsold its entire competition for the quarter. Intel's DCG revenue was US$7.3 billion, up 20 percent from a year ago. Intel's Internet of Things group recorded US$1.1 billion in sales, and Mobileye, which Intel plans to partially spin off, notched US$356 million in sales. Intel's Gelsinger left the door open to other spinoffs, as well.
That's noteworthy, given that going forward, Intel said it plans to restructure itself: Intel's Arc graphics business, which will formally launch later this quarter, will be a separate unit.