With revenue, profits, and capital expenditures up for all of the Big Three cloud computing companies during the first quarter of 2018, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the chip company inside nearly all those new servers had a nice quarter itself.
Intel’s Data Center Group posted a 24 percent increase in revenue during the first quarter, recording $5.2 billion in revenue. That helped the company as a whole to record $16.1 billion in revenue, up nine percent compared to the prior year and exceeding analyst estimates of $15 billion by quite some distance.
Given that its market share for data center servers is somewhere in the high 90s, Intel’s results are a pretty decent barometer for how cloud vendors like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform are investing in capacity. Google raised eyebrows on Monday when it revealed it had spent around $3.7 billion on capital expenditures related to its cloud business, and Microsoft said Thursday it spent $3.5 billion on cloud-related capital expenditures during the quarter.
It’s a little harder to figure out what AWS spent, given that those numbers are lumped in with the rest of Amazon’s capital-intensive operation. But it’s pretty safe to assume that it matched its competitors at the very least, considering growth accelerated for the market leader during the quarter.
And it doesn’t seem like the major event of Intel’s first quarter — the disclosure of the Spectre or Meltdown design flaws — had much of an effect on the bottom line. It’s hard to know for sure if cloud vendors were able to exert pricing pressure on Intel thanks to all the work required to mitigate the effect of those flaws, but unit volume in Intel’s data center group was up 16 percent during the quarter, while the average selling price rose seven percent.