Intel’s 7nm chips are delayed until 2020

After years of setbacks, Intel eventually had its 10 nm chips on the market, but now the firm has confirmed that it has experienced issues with its new 7nm chip, which would also result in delays for the next generation of chips.

As Intel’s Q2 2020 results report states, “the company’s 7nm-based CPU product timing is shifting approximately six months relative to prior expectations,” moving them further from an initially expected launch at the end of 2021. According to Tom’s Hardware, the six-month wait will move the deadline to at least 2022, if not longer, because of what Intel CEO Bob Swan termed a “defect mode” in the 7 nm process.

Indeed, Intel says the problems with its new 7 nm production means that they are a year behind its internal timetable. Nonetheless, the organization claims, that being one year behind schedule would  just result in a six-month delay to launch. For contrast, AMD has been developing for months now, its own Ryzen 4000 chips built on its 7 nm design, which handily outperforms Intel’s offerings.

It’s not all bad news for Intel though: the firm is on track to announce its 11th Gen Tiger Lake chips (based on the world’s third-generation, 10nm++ processor) to replace the 10th Gen Ice Lake laptop series later this year, taking Intel’s heavily hyped Xe graphics with them. Intel also plans to introduce its first products from its 12th Gen Alder Lake series (the successor to Tiger Lake) by the end of this year — including the long anticipated first 10 nm desktop CPUs.

Especially promising is the real financial figures of Intel for Q2: Intel’s Client Computing Group (which manufactures CPUS’s for notebooks and desktops) reported an increase of 7% year-over-year with sales of $9.50 billion. Intel notes that these strong results were driven by the increase in sales of laptops due to the increase in customers working and learning from home caused by COVID-19.

Nevertheless, the difficulty in hitting 7 nm chips is a lingering problem for the company. If the history of Intel’s extending its 14 nm architecture for generations of incremental refinements is anything to go by, expect to see a lot more 10 nm products released in the coming years.

There only so much padding Intel can do. The delay of 10nm chips help up a huge chunk of the laptop industry, which relies on Intel’s roadmap and increases in power efficiency and performance to develop new and better products. And based on the company’s latest guidelines, it’s likely the PC environment could be in for a major slowdown in the years to come for 7 nm Intel processors.

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