Intel delivered bad news to its investors today, announcing that its plans for 7nm chips have slipped another six months, and yields are now running a year behind original projections. This comes after Apple announced plans to rely on its own CPUs for future computers, and as competitors like AMD and NVIDIA already take advantage of 7nm tech to build more efficient processors. Until then it will continue to rely on 10nm processes, where it’s still ramping up production after a series of delays.
Intel is accelerating its transition to 10nm products this year with increasing volumes and strong demand for an expanding line up. 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.
Tom’s Hardware notes that on a call following the release, execs including CEO Bob Swan cited a “defect mode” in the process and said it may rely on third-party foundries for chip production. That means pushing 7nm production back to late 2022 or early 2023. Further updates are apparently incoming at the company’s Architecture Day, as it tries to catch up with the competition.