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Intel Says 10nm CPUs on Track for Rollout in 2019, Leaked Roadmaps Suggest New 14nm CPUs in 2020 and 2021

Intel Says 10nm CPUs on Track for Rollout in 2019, Leaked Roadmaps Suggest New 14nm CPUs in 2020 and 2021
  • Intel's consumer CPU division has grown over the past year
  • Slim laptops with 10nm Ice Lake CPUs will be on sale by late 2019
  • Leaked roadmaps indicate a split strategy with new 14nm products in 2021

Intel has just announced its Q1 2019 earnings, and in amongst all the news about its financial performance and targets, new CEO Bob Swan stated that the company's 10nm manufacturing process is in good shape, and rollout is proceeding better than previously expected. The target for manufacturing volume has therefore been raised. The company is now more confident than before in its ability to produce 10nm CPUs, and samples of the upcoming 'Ice Lake' CPUs will begin the qualification process with OEMs within this quarter. Ice Lake is the codename for a line of 10nm CPUs based on the 'Sunny Cove' architecture, and it is expected that the company will first use it for low-power CPUs aimed at thin-and-light laptops and 2-in-1 convertibles. The first of these products are now expected to be on store shelves in time for the US holiday shopping season towards the end of this year.

According to Swan, 10nm chips are now moving through Intel's foundries twice as fast as they were four months ago. Ice Lake is the successor to the massively delayed and now-cancelled Cannonlake, which ultimately never shipped in volumes and caused multiple additional generations of 14nm CPUs to be required to fill the gap in Intel's product lineup. CPUs based on Ice Lake are expected to include new instructions to speed up AI processing and will also feature integrated Thunderbolt 3 and Wi-Fi 6.   

Intel's Client Consumer Group, responsible for all consumer desktop and laptop CPUs, posted a 4 percent growth in revenue compared to the same quarter last year. This has been attributed to the launch of new high-performance products and growth in the gaming market. Year-on-year revenue for the company overall was flat, and full-year revenue is now expected to decrease by around 3 percent compared to 2018.

The Datacenter Group was down by an average of 5 percent across its portfolio with the memory business in particular facing difficulties due to what the company describes as a "challenging pricing environment. However Mobileye, which was acquired by Intel in a push towards the computer vision and autonomous driving markets, posted a record revenue growth of 38 percent to $209 million.       

Separately, a huge trove of purported roadmap leaks have been published by Tom's Hardware. According to the leaked slides, which are allegedly leaked from within Dell, Intel will continue to offer 14nm CPUs for various product segments at least until 2021. The age of the slides is not known, and of course even if they are accurate, they might change at any point. 

The slides reveal a new codename, 'Rocket Lake', for a series of 14nm Xeon server CPUs as well as U-series and S-series chips targeted to launch in 2021. Before that, Comet Lake is expected to succeed the current Amber Lake, Whiskey Lake, and Coffee Lake lineups. Lakefield, a brand new chip which will combine one "big" Sunny Cove core and four "small" Atom cores, is now listed as having a 3-5W TDP which would position it below the existing Y-series line. 

Comet Lake CPUs are expected to feature more cores, bringing the high end up to 10 core while mainstream models could jump from four to six cores. While Rocket Lake would still use 14nm cores, it is also described as having a 10nm GPU, which could be a development that takes advantage of Intel's ongoing efforts to develop much more powerful GPUs under a new Xe brand, including discrete GPUs by 2020. 


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