Intel Cannon Lake: Widespread 10nm release not expected until late 2019

Intel has finally confirmed a release window (albeit vague) for its highly anticipated 10nm CPU architecture, codenamed Cannon Lake. 

Speaking in a recent earnings call, interim Intel CEO Bob Swan confirmed (via TomsHardware) that we should expect to see chips based on the new fabrication process released in the second half of 2019.

It’s currently unclear what generation Cannon Lake will represent for Intel. The company is expected to launch its 9th generation of CPUs in August of 2018, suggesting that Cannon Lake may end up being the 10th generation of Intel’s desktop chips.

Intel’s 10nm chips have been a long time coming. Back at CES 2018 the company announced that it has already started shipping 10nm chips, but these are far from the desktop-grade processors that enthusiasts have been eagerly anticipating. Instead according to Ars Technica, the first recipient of the next generation of chip is the Lenovo IdeaPad 330 (pictured above), a machine that only appears to be available via Chinese retailers at present.

Intel’s own site details the chip as having 2-core/4-thread CPU clocked at 2.2GHz base, with 4MB of level 3 cache.

In the meantime, the delay to 10nm means that 14nm chip production will need to be stretched that little bit further. Intel announced that it might have trouble keeping up with demand in the second half of this year, after it already struggled to meet demand when the chips were first released last year.

The quantity of bad news had an impact on Intel’s share price, which fell 6% in after-hours trading despite the company reporting 15% of year-on-year growth.

Related: Best CPUs 2018

Moore’s law creaks to a halt

Intel originally had much more ambitious plans for the first generation of 10nm CPUs, and had at one point intended to release them way back in 2015. However, over time the difficulties of shrinking its chips became more and more apparent, eventually forcing Intel to abandon its famous ‘tick-tock’ model to make way for a much more sedate tick-tock-tock approach.

This means that although it took just two years to jump from 22nm to 14nm, we’ve already been on 14nm for over three years now. Intel promised that we’d see Cannon Lake before the end of the year back at CES 2017, but there’s still no widespread release on the table despite Intel proudly proclaiming that Moore’s law wasn’t dead back in October last year.

With chip progress slowing, there’s some speculation that network speeds and cloud computing will pick up more of the slack. With 4G internet now being widespread, and 5G on the horizon, devices are able to offload more and more intensive computing operations to the cloud rather than processing them on-device.

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