Tuesday , 14 August 2018
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Intel delays 10nm chips yet again as firm suffers ‘yield issues’

CHIPMAKER Intel is once again delaying volume production of its long-awaited 10nm chips after suffering “yield issues”. 

Intel’s first 10nm silicon was originally slated for release in late 2016, but technical challenges encountered in shrinking transistors to ever smaller scales led to the launch being delayed until 2017.  

The last we heard, back in September last year, Intel had once again pushed back mass production of its first 10nm ‘Cannon Lake’ chips until late-2018. 

In a surprise to no one, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich this week confirmed that the company ramping up volume production of 10nm silicon until 2019 at the earliest. 

“We continue to make progress on our 10-nanometer process,” Krzanich explained during the firm’s earnings call on Thursday.

“We are shipping in low volume and yields are improving, but the rate of improvement is slower than we anticipated. As a result, volume production is moving from the second half of 2018 into 2019. We understand the yield issues and have defined improvements for them, but they will take time to implement and qualify.”

Krzanich wouldn’t clarify when in 2019 production would ramp up, noting: “We didn’t say first or second half, but we’ll do it as quickly as we can based on the yield.

“The transistors work. We know the performance is in line. So it’s really just about getting the defects and the costs in line to where we want,” he added.

This latest delay is bad news for Intel, which is already years behind its competitors with its 10nm output. AMD has already confirmed that it plans to run its second and third generation Zen architecture x86 microprocessors on 7nm, while TSMC has already started production of its first 7nm silicon

Still, while bad news for the company, Intel reported stronger-than-expected first quarter results on Thursday fueled by growth of its data centre and Internet of Things businesses which saw an increase of revenues of 24 per cent and 17 per cent, respectively. 

Intel’s Client Computing Group saw just three per cent growth to $8.2bn, due to stagnant PC sales, but the firm said it saw strong demand for its 8th-gen Intel Core i9 processor. µ

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