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New Intel Desktop Roadmap Leak Still Shows No 10nm CPUs Through 2020

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Last week, we covered the leak of an Intel roadmap for both its mobile and commercial client parts. The headline event was the general lack of 10nm silicon for desktop, which didn’t appear to pop up in non-mobile systems through the end of 2021.

The same group at Tweakers.net that leaked the previous releases have leaked this one as well. Now, ordinarily we don’t hit the same rumor or set of rumors with two separate stories, but in this case, they’ve leaked the roadmap we were most interested in — the desktop client roadmap. As always, the same caveats and grains of salt apply. These are rumors. They may be dated, they may be wrong. THG notes that while the roadmap refers to a “Cascade Lake Refresh” in the server section, Intel’s publicly known roadmap has Cooper Lake arriving this year, with Ice Lake in 2020. Cooper Lake could be “Cascade Lake refresh,” but Ice Lake isn’t even on this roadmap. That means it could be dated or a fake to begin with.

One reason to think it isn’t fake is that Intel has carefully avoided saying much about which systems will ship 10nm chips or what segments it will launch these products in. The consistent rumor has been that after all of its problems, Intel won’t introduce 10nm at huge volume or convert its entire fab over to the node. Instead, it will use 10nm in a limited capacity and push on to 7nm.

But the sheer scale of Intel’s business means that “limited capacity” can have different meanings depending, for example, on whether it means “We’ll convert mobile to 10nm but keep desktop and server chips on 14nm,” versus “We’ll use 10nm in some individual SKUs intended for very specific markets, but have no plans for true volume shipments.” While neither of these represents a victory for Intel, they represent different sorts of problems. In the first case, 10nm is a specialized node with a particular set of features best-used for mobile. In the second, 10nm basically barely happens, with Intel shipping a handful of parts to satisfy investors that it did so, before pushing hard for 7nm.

Personally, I think Intel will try to push some 10nm hardware into market, but wouldn’t be surprised if it was confined to mobile, like first-generation Broadwell. How much of a problem that represents for Intel’s 7nm ramp is unclear, because we don’t know exactly where the company is in that process.

Part of what makes all of this unclear is that each manufacturer defines its own nodes. TSMC’s 7nm is what TSMC says it is. Samsung’s 7nm is what Samsung says it is. Intel’s 10nm is expected to be broadly comparable to Samsung and TSMC’s 7nm, but that’s based on older information from several years ago. Whether this still remains the case isn’t clear.

Also, note that the commercial roadmap from last week showed the introduction of Comet Lake for SIPP happening two quarters later than Comet Lake for consumer client. This was one of the reasons we wanted to see this roadmap in the first place — the timelines in the SIPP roadmap (below) may have been too conservative.

The big takeaway from these documents is that they imply a significant 7nm advantage for AMD, assuming that the company can ship hardware in volume beginning this summer. The implication is that Intel’s 10nm desktop chips will not appear until after 2020 at the earliest, assuming, yes, that this roadmap is accurate.

It isn’t, however, clear what this advantage will mean for AMD. AMD has never beaten Intel to a node, much less enjoyed a shipping advantage on that node for any length of time. At the same time, node shrinks matter less than they used to, and the PC market runs on a slower cadence than it once did. Back in 2003 – 2005, users still tended to upgrade much more quickly than they do now. We, therefore, expect to see AMD benefit from the boost, but predicting exactly how much or to what degree isn’t a bridge we’re willing to cross just yet.

Now Read:

  • Intel Roadmap Leak: 10nm Ice Lake in Q2, but 14nm Hangs on Through 2021
  • Intel: CPU Shortage Will Extend Into Q3 2019
  • Intel Unleashes 9th Generation 8-Core Mobile CPUs

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