Intel 7nm CPU in 2023, Behind Six months from the schedule

Intel's 7nm process node work is delayed by a year, first 7nm product, a client CPU in late 2022, or early 2023. More 14nm CPUs.

Intel published their Q2,2020 financial results, which say 7nm processors are delayed by a year due to 6-months behind schedule. This delay has caused by the defect in the process node. Second-quarter revenue is $19.7 billion, this revenue is higher compare to Q2,2019. Revenue growth is 34 percent in data-centric and 7 percent in PC-centric.

Intel has shared many details about their current and upcoming processors in this financial report. This year 10nm processors will increase with volume numbers, both in clients and servers. 10nm based “Tiger Lake” launching soon and 10nm “Ice Lake” for servers will launch as planned by end of 2020. In the second half of 2021, Intel has expected to launch a 10nm desktop “Alder lake” CPU as well.

Intel is accelerating its transition to 10nm products this year with increasing volumes and strong demand for an expanding lineup. This includes a growing portfolio of 10nm-based Intel Core processors with “Tiger Lake” launching soon, and the first 10nm-based server CPU “Ice Lake,” which remains planned for the end of this year. In the second half of 2021, Intel expects to deliver a new line of client CPU’s (code-named “Alder Lake”), which will include its first 10nm-based desktop CPU, and a new 10nm-based server CPU (code-named “Sapphire Rapids”). The company’s 7nm-based CPU product timing is shifting approximately six months relative to prior expectations. The primary driver is the yield of Intel’s 7nm process, which based on recent data, is now trending approximately twelve months behind the company’s internal target.

According to Intel’s report

7nm Delay Detail

Intel’s CEO Swan said – 7nm based CPU is six months behind the schedule, so there is a year delay in production. A positive sign is the Intel has already identified the defect and cause of yield degradation in the 7nm process. All the products delay in Intel, slowly impacting the market share towards competitors. Although the Intel revenue report is higher than previously.

Turning to our 7nm technology: We are seeing an approximate six-month shift in our 7nm-based CPU product timing relative to prior expectations. The primary driver is the yield of our 7nm process, which based on recent data, is now trending approximately twelve months behind our internal target. We have identified a defect mode in our 7nm process that resulted in yield degradation. We’ve root-caused the
issue and believe there are no fundamental roadblocks, but we have also invested in contingency plans to hedge against further schedule uncertainty. We’re mitigating the impact of the process delay on our product schedules by leveraging improvements in design methodology such as die disaggregation and advanced packaging. We have learned from the challenges in our 10nm transition and have a milestone-driven approach to ensure our product competitiveness is not impacted by our process technology roadmap

Intel CEO Bob Swan

Continuous delay in the process node is not a good sign for any consumer and investor. 14nm and Skylake architecture has completed around 6 years of tenure, is now aged. Due to delay in the 10nm process, Intel still keeps pushing advanced 14nm CPU by adding thousands of “+”. However, Intel offers 10nm laptop processors in 10th Gen but in fewer numbers. And the performance of the available 10nm CPUs is not sufficient for the high-end task.

Intel’s goal was to deliver 7nm on time but unfortunately, it will take another year. They have lost more time with 10nm and wanted to reduce the life span of 10nm and focus on 7nm. According to Intel – They have learned from the challenges in the 10nm process, with that they wanted to move to more reliable 7nm.

Expected date of 7nm CPU

Intel is working hard in this process node, at least on paper. We now expect to see the initial production of the first 7nm product, a client CPU in late 2022 or early 2023. And first 7nm datacenter CPU design in the first half of 2023.

Meanwhile, the use of 14nm will continue, to power next 11th gen “Rocket lake” CPU. Rocket Lake-S CPU may feature PCI-e 4.0, New Xe graphics, and more interesting willow cove microarchitecture. Willow Cove is designed for Intel’s 10nm processors and the upcoming rocket lake will use 14nm. That clearly means, Intel will redesign Willow Cove for 14nm Rocket lake. Cypress Cove is the rumored code name of this redesigned architecture.

Intel reorganized itself after 7nm delayed reported in the financial reports. Dr. Murthy Renduchintala, who had been leading the TSCG (Technology, Systems Architecture, and Client Group) departed the company. The TSCG is separated into five groups, whose leaders will report directly to the CEO. All changes are effective immediately.

  • Technology Development, led by Dr. Ann Kelleher. 
  • Manufacturing and Operations, led by Keyvan Esfarjani.
  • Design Engineering, led in the interim by Josh Walden while Intel conducts an accelerated global search to identify a permanent world-class leader. 
  • Architecture, Software and Graphics will continue to be led by Raja Koduri.
  • Supply Chain will continue to be led by Dr. Randhir Thakur.

Let’s see where Intel’s fabs take the whole product stack. Intel may seek out third party fab like TSMC or Samsung for CPU manufacturing in the future. Continuous delay in the process node puts the company at risk, where it already struggling with a 10nm delay. Using third party fab is not easy for Intel, it manufactures most of the chip in-house except few.

Fabrication node is important now and race has begun. For better power efficiency Intel has to shift to a lower process node. TSMC will soon start 5nm in mass production, leap advantages to AMD, Nvidia, and etc. Intel is squeezed out now. Intel’s focus in 7nm, to keep it on track is a good move. What will happen next in Intel is dependent upon the preparation of Intel.

Read More