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Intel’s 10nm ‘Cannon Lake’ processors won’t arrive until the 2019 holiday season

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Intel chief engineering officer Venkata Renduchintala said the company’s 10mn processors won’t appear in products until the 2019 holiday season. He revealed the new launch window during Intel’s second quarter 2018 financial results conference call, reporting that the yields are improving to the point that products based on the 10nm chip will arrive in that time frame.

“The systems on shelves that we expect in holiday 2019 will be client systems, with data center products to follow shortly after,” he later explained during the Q&A session. Robert Swan added that Intel had a “very good lineup” of 14nm products in the mainstream and server markets as the company continues to ramp the 10nm process technology.

We first experienced Intel’s 10nm “Cannon Lake” chip in action within a 2-in-1 PC in January 2017. Products based on the chip were slated to arrive by the end of 2017, but that never happened. Intel instead pushed back its Cannon Lake rollout until 2018 due to manufacturing difficulties stemming from the 10nm process. The smaller the processor components, the more problematic the manufacturing process becomes, producing a higher number of defective chips.

But Intel warned in its first quarter 2018 results that its 10nm chips wouldn’t arrive until 2019 due to the problems related to 10nm process technology. The company is still pushing 10nm chips in extremely low volumes, as we saw in a recent laptop listing, but mass production won’t happen until late 2019.

“Recall that 10nm strives for a very aggressive density improvement target beyond 14nm, almost 2.7x scaling,” Renduchintala said during the call. “And really, the challenges that we’re facing on 10nm is delivering on all the revolutionary modules that ultimately deliver on that program.”

Although he acknowledged that pushing back 10nm presents a “risk and a degree of delay” in the company’s road map, Intel is quite pleased with the “resiliency” of its 14nm roadmap. He said the company delivered an excess of 70 percent performance improvement over the last few years. Meanwhile, Intel’s 10nm process should be in an ideal state to mass produce chips towards the end of 2019.

Intel’s Cannon Lake chip is essentially a shrink of its seventh-generation “Kaby Lake” processor design. Given the previous launch window, the resulting chips presumably fell under the company’s eighth-generation banner despite the older design. But with mass production pushed back to late 2019, the 10nm chips will fall under Intel’s ninth-generation umbrella along with CPUs based on its upcoming “Ice Lake” design.

Intel claims that its 10nm chips will provide 25 percent increased performance over their 14nm counterparts. Even more, they will supposedly consume 50 percent less power than their 14nm counterparts.

A roadmap leaked in 2017 revealed “H” and “U” processors, with the H models drawing between 35 and 45 watts of power and the U models drawing between 15 and 28 watts of power. The H chips will supposedly sport two, four, and six cores while the U chips will only have two cores. Intel typically reserves the U suffix for ultra-low power chips while saving the H suffix for processors with high-performance graphics.

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