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Intel admits that the 10nm process is doing poorly

Intel lost its leadership position in process technology after years of 10nm delays. (Image source: Intel)
Intel lost its leadership position in process technology after years of 10nm delays. (Image source: Intel)
In a very honest reflection on the state of Intel's current competitive position, CFO George Davis not only admitted that 10nm won't be as profitable as previous nodes, but that Intel is in fact behind other foundries when it comes to manufacturing technology. Davis doesn't expect Intel will catch up until its 7nm process becomes available in 2021.

At a recent Morgan Stanley financial analyst event, Intel CFO George Davis made some vary candid remarks regarding Intel's 10nm troubles. In the transcript from Anandtech, Davis said that 10nm "isn't going to be the best node that Intel has ever had. It's going to be less productive than 14[nm], less productive than 22[nm]… it isn't going to be as strong a node as people would expect from 14nm or what they'll see in 7nm".

After years of delays, Intel's 10nm designs have finally seen the light of day in the Ice Lake series of 10th Gen CPUs. However even after the long wait, 10nm's yields and clock speeds have been generally unimpressive, resulting in the aging 14nm+(+++...) process still being used today for desktop and server platforms.

Intel's CFO went on to acknowledge that the 10nm process is behind the competition, saying the company would regain "parity in the 7nm generation and regain leadership in the 5nm [generation]". Intel's nomenclature differs from the other foundries such as TSMC. The 7nm generation is roughly equivalent to TSMC's 5nm process, with Intel's 5nm being similar to TSMC's 3nm. Intel's roadmap has 7nm scheduled for 2021 and 5nm releasing in 2023.

While Intel is struggling to make up ground after the 10nm delays, AMD has continued to improve, resulting in a significant sales shift. Meanwhile, Intel has decided to back-port designs to older processes and overlap generations in an effort to keep up with demand.

The entire transcript including George Davis' comments can be found at Anandtech.


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Jonathan Hayhurst, 2020-03- 8 (Update: 2020-03- 8)