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Intel 7nm process could be delayed until 2021

Posted on Monday, September 05 2016 @ 13:26:48 CEST by

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There's no doubt that shrinking chips to ever smaller nodes is becoming increasingly hard. AMD is still shipping processors made on a 28nm process, this is expected to change within a couple of months with the Zen rollout, but things aren't rosy for Intel either. The chip giant struggled with its 10nm process, as evidenced by the firm's decision to abandon the tick-tock model with the introduction of Kaby Lake - the third generation on the chip giant's 14nm process.

Last month there were rumors about Intel preparing a fourth 14nm generation, codenamed Coffee Lake, and now there are rumors about a substantial delay of Intel's 7nm node. Ashraf Eassa from the Motley Fool points out that an updated job listing from Intel suggests a further delay of the 7nm process, the author speculates Intel originally planned to implement its 7nm process around 2020 but that this goal is no longer realistic.

Based on current roadmaps, the first 10nm chips from Intel are expected in the second half of 2017, with broad product availability probably being something for January 2018. Intel has hinted its 10nm process will feature three waves so if the company sticks to a yearly cadence, this means we could see volume availability of 10nm+ products in January 2019 and the first 10nm++ processors in January 2020.

This implies the first 7nm shrinks could arrive in 2021, with the first new 7nm architecture CPUs arriving around January 2022. As always, take this information with a grain of salt. When you're talking several years out, things tend to change a lot.
Based on this cadence, which is admittedly probably on the pessimistic side, the first products based on 7-nanometer would be expected to launch in January 2021 -- a bit earlier than the 2022 time frame given in the job listing.

What Intel could be planning, then, is to introduce substantially enhanced chip designs a year after the first 7-nanometer products, which could very well be modest updates to the final 10-nanometer++ products. In fact, Intel's product cadence is now referred to as "Process, Architecture, Optimization," so fundamentally new architecture products on 7-nanometer could, indeed, arrive in January 2022.



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