Ahead of its latest earnings call, Intel is forced to deny that it's not been able crack the 10nm manufacturing process.
Intel has publicly denied that it’s ditching work on its 10 nanometre CPU architecture, saying that it’s making “good progress” with Cannon Lake.
Charlie Demerjian, writing for SemiAccurate, says that Intel has been trying in vain to master a 10nm process for years, citing unnamed ‘moles’ had claimed that the chipmaker was giving up.
Intel later hit back with a Twitter broadside, saying that the story was “untrue,” and that work on perfecting the 10nm manufacturing process continues.
But manufacturing smaller transistors has been difficult for Intel, which initially claimed that 10nm CPUs would be ready by 2015, promised that we’d see them in 2017, and more recently, made noises that they’d be ready by the end of next year.
Today’s statement from Intel reaffirms this:
“Media reports published today that Intel is ending work on the 10nm process are untrue. We are making good progress on 10nm. Yields are improving consistent with the timeline we shared during our last earnings report.”
The last earnings report, released back in July, focussed on the 10nm issue. At the time, interim Intel CEO, Bob Swan gave ‘late 2019’ as an ETA for 10nm processors.
Related: Intel Cannon Lake
10nm vs 14nm: What’s the big deal?
The move from 10nm to 14nm, the fabrication architecture Intel’s used for almost four years now, has long been anticipated by fans and investors.
Jumping or ‘tocking’, in industry speak, from 14nm to 10nm is a big deal, because, in theory, smaller transistors allow for greater PC performance, by virtue of makers being able to cram more components onto a single piece of silicon.
In the years since, Intel has eked out more performance boosts with processors following the 14nm fabrication process, including the recently released (and very, very hot) Core i9-9900K CPU, which follows the so-called ‘14nm++++’ design. The 8th-gen Whiskey Lake CPUs unveiled at IFA 2018 follow the ‘14nm+++’ format, for example, while the 8th-gen Coffee Lake CPUs, like the i7-8700K, use the ‘14nm++’ architecture. Cannon Lake is the codename given to Intel’s 10nm processor design.
Rumours persisted that Intel had thought of forgoing 10nm altogether, going straight to 7nm, as other manufacturers have. Navi, the GPU being made by rival chipmaker AMD, is said to follow a 7nm design and earlier this year both Huawei and Apple released new phones with 7nm multi-core CPUs, the Kirin 980 and A12 Bionic, respectively.
Despite this and today’s rumour, Intel says it’s holding firm with 10nm chips, which we should, in theory, get to see a year from now. Intel’s next earnings report is due on October 25.
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