Skip to main content

Intel doubles down on 10nm in 2019, pledges to never have shortages again

Intel’s latest generation of desktop CPUs is the 9000-series Coffee Lake S range based on its 14nm architecture. Luke Larsen/Digital Trends

Following leaked roadmaps that suggested Intel’s 10nm CPU lines wouldn’t reach desktops until 2022 at the earliest, Intel has doubled down on earlier claims that it would launch 10nm products, starting with Ice Lake, in 2019. They won’t be for desktops, but Intel CEO Bob Swan said during an earnings call that 10nm production was improving. He also made a stern promise that production would never hinder Intel CPU availability or pricing again.

Despite years of development, Intel’s 10nm products have yet to appear in any kind of volume, but that’s slated to change this year. Dell previously promised the first XPS laptops sporting Intel 10nm CPUs by this summer, and Intel’s Bob Swan has now confirmed that, stating during the call that we could expect the first Ice Lake products, built on a 10nm process, by the end of this quarter. That would slate the first Intel Ice Lake products to land before July.

“Our confidence in 10nm is also improving,” Swan told investors. “In addition to the manufacturing velocity improvement I described earlier, we expect to qualify our first volume 10nm product – Ice Lake – this quarter and are increasing our 10nm volume goals for the year.”

Elsewhere in the call Swan addressed concerns over Intel meeting stock expectations for Ice Lake and other 10nm architectures in the future. Intel has previously faced serious yield issues with 10nm wafers which is what’s thought to have pushed the technology back several years beyond its original planned launch year of 2015.

“On the process technology front, our teams executed well in Q1 and our velocity is increasing,” Swan said. “We remain on track to have volume client systems on shelves for the holiday selling season. And over the past 4 months, the organization drove a nearly 2X improvement in the rate at which 10nm products move through our factories.”

Going beyond pledges of volume production, though, Swan also made a firm promise. Never again would Intel production problems lead to poor chip availability and price rises for potential buyers.

“Specific areas where we need to improve execution include meeting customer demand and delivering on our 10nm lineup of products,” Swan said, via PCWorld. “And we are making progress. Our supply constraints have had a disruptive impact on our customers’ design ecosystems. We’ve committed to never again be a constraint on our customers’ growth. We’ve increased our capacity to improve our position in the second half, although product mix will continue to be a challenge in the third quarter, as our teams align available supply with customer demand.”

As much as Swan was excited for the launch of 10nm products in 2019, they will be exclusively mobile. Intel hasn’t said much about its desktop plans for the coming years, but if the leaked roadmaps are anything to go by, Intel will continue to leverage its 14nm process (based on the original Skylake design) for some time to come. Intel hasn’t confirmed it, but has said it’s scaling up 14nm production, which would hint that this is at least the case for the near future.

Editors' Recommendations

Jon Martindale
Jon Martindale is the Evergreen Coordinator for Computing, overseeing a team of writers addressing all the latest how to…
Intel 10th-gen Ice Lake CPUs: Everything we know so far
intel ice lake wont rid spectre insecure chip

Intel has been shooting for a 10nm architecture for years, and it finally achieved that with Ice Lake CPUs. The years of anticipation and hype surrounding Intel's delayed push to a smaller process node built an exciting aura around Ice Lake in 2019. In 2021, after the launch has come and gone, it's clear Ice Lake represented a stepping stone for Intel, even if the platform didn't deliver in all the ways we expected.

From pricing to performance and connectivity changes, we've rounded up everything you need to know about 10th-gen Ice Lake CPUs. Although they're faster than the generation that proceeded, Intel has already started pushing its 11th-gen Tiger Lake platform, which features improvements of its own.
Pricing and availability

Read more
Intel’s first 35-watt gaming processors are built on 10nm Tiger Lake
everything intel announced at ces 2021 gregory bryant 1

Intel has announced a new line of gaming processors, which it calls Tiger Lake H35, at CES 2021. The reason for the name? They are part of its H-series of more powerful laptop chips, but only at a 35-watt power envelope.

These are Intel's first 10nm gaming parts, which shows that the company can scale up its 10nm process for more powerful computers. Until today, the 10nm architecture has been used exclusively by U-series, 15-watt thin-and-light laptops -- though technically, those chips can scale up to 28 watts.

Read more
Intel: Alder Lake chips to launch later in 2021 with ‘enhanced 10nm SuperFin’
Former Intel CEO Bob Swan at a presentation.

Intel has a new generation of desktop chips launching at CES 2021, also known as Rocket Lake-S. However, the company is already talking about its replacement, which is set to come as early as the second half of 2021. It's possible that Rocket Lake will only be in circulation for a few months before attention will shift toward Alder Lake-S, its successor.

Why the quick turnaround? Well, Alder Lake is an incredibly important launch for Intel. The company's transition to 10nm has been a long and arduous roll-out. It started in 2019 with the launch of Ice Lake, the company's first 10nm chips. The release was limited to thin-and-light laptops with 15-watt TDPs. Only now are we seeing the 10nm node being used in 35-watt H-series gaming laptops, with 45-watt chips on the near horizon.

Read more