Intel delays work on 10nm Cannon Lake chips, plans third round of 14nm CPUs

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Back in 1965, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore predicted famously that transistor density would double every year for ten years. In 1975, he revisited that prediction and revised it to state that transistor density had slowed to doubling every two years. Now, it looks like Intel is doubling back once again, with or without Moore, and extending that timeline, at least temporarily, to every two and a half years.

In an investor call regarding the second quarter of 2015, CEO Brian Krzanich announced that the 10nm chips planned for early 2017 will be moving back to late 2017, and there will be one more round of 14nm chips after Skylake, simply called “Lake,” according to ZDNet. This is likely the Kaby Lake architecture leaked late last month.

It’s no secret that technological transitions to smaller and denser platforms have slowed in the last few years. Intel managed to make the move to 14nm with the Broadwell chips in the second half of 2014, while AMD still struggles to go any smaller than the 28nm chips it introduced years ago. That’s not entirely AMD’s fault, as it not longer owns its production facilities. Still, it’s clear all companies that design chips are facing a common problem.

Though almost no details are known about the Lake chips at this time, the core is likely to be responsible for only a small number of processors, and possibly the fastest of that socket, if Intel doesn’t change it again. Other than that, all we have to go off of is Krzanich’s comment that Lake will be built on the same design principles as Skylake, but will add in “key performance enhancements.”

The good news is that Skylake-based CPUs are still very much on track for the second half of 2015. We’ve already seen a few of the motherboards that are ready for the Skylake launch, as well as a couple of enthusiast CPUs built on that architecture. We don’t have an exact release date yet, but when we do we’ll be able to more fully understand the Intel roadmap for the next two years.


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