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Intel once again delays its 10nm chips in favor of another 14nm generation

During Intel's earnings call, the company announced that once again, it will be delaying its upcoming 10nm 'Cannon Lake' processors, this time until 2019. The chips were originally due in the second half of this year, but instead, the firm will produce a new generation of 14nm chips codenamed 'Whiskey Lake', with 'Cascade Lake' for datacenters.

Cannon Lake was originally expected to ship in 2016, so this has been delayed for some time. Intel has been producing new chips on 14nm technology since 2014, when fifth-gen Broadwell CPUs started shipping. Now that we're on the eighth generation, things couldn't be more confusing.

Intel's eighth-gen chips are a mess of Kaby Lake and Coffee Lake architectures, both of which are 14nm. The U-series is Kaby Lake R, which is essentially a quad-core version of the original dual-core Kaby Lake U-series processors. The new G-series is Kaby Lake G, which essentially takes last generation's H-series processor and straps on a dedicated AMD Radeon GPU. And then you have the new H-series processors and the desktop chips, which are Coffee Lake.

To make matters even more confusing, the 10nm Cannon Lake was initially supposed to be part of the eighth-gen offering later this year, rather than calling them ninth-generation. Presumably, Whiskey Lake will now fill this role. We've reached out to Intel for clarification on this.

Most of the eighth-generation lineup has been announced by now though, with the U-series for ultrabooks, the G-series for powerful convertibles, the H-series for powerful laptops, desktop chips, and the T-series for low-power desktop chips. What's still missing is the Y-series, which is for ultra-low power devices. It's unclear what Intel plans to do with that, as its strategy for the eighth generation has mainly been more about power, and these processors are built around efficiency.

Intel did say that it's already shipping some 10nm chips, but progress is lower than the company expected. CEO Brian Krzanich said the following (via Anandtech):

“We are shipping [10-nm chips] 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.”

To make matters worse, he didn't clarify when in 2019 10nm processors will arrive, whether it's the first or the second half. Unfortunately, we're just going to have to wait and see, and hope that Cannon Lake doesn't get delayed yet again.

Looking across the board, Qualcomm started using 10nm in its Snapdragon 835 chipsets early last year, and AMD is using 12nm in its second-gen Ryzen chips. In fact, AMD is already talking about 7nm processors that it has in its labs.

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