Intel roadmap reveals a slow trek to 10nm in 2020

JC Torres - Aug 9, 2018, 8:21 pm CDT
Intel roadmap reveals a slow trek to 10nm in 2020

It’s not a good year for Intel. Never mind AMD’s comeback, Intel’s 2018 kicked off with its biggest embarrassments to date: Meltdown and Spectre. And then it had to admit that the long-overdue 10nm processors will have to wait until 2019. At its Data-centric Innovation Summit, however, the silicon maker is now saying that those won’t actually be coming until 2020, with a “half step” coming in 2019 instead.

Shrinking the process node from the current 14nm to 10nm is more than just a size change. Admittedly, it’s often used as a marketing advantage but it does also bring improvements in production and performance. If anything, it also hints at a company’s ability to move forward. So when Intel promised 10nm chips in 2015 but won’t be able to deliver until 5 years later, you know something’s up.

In the meantime, Intel will continue to fill its product line with 14nm chips for the next year or so, reports Tom’s Hardware. First up is Cascade Lake that’s scheduled to launch this year. In addition to adding support for Intel’s new Optane persistent memory DIMMs, this particular generation will probably be best known for finally introducing built-in hardware mitigation for Meltdown and Spectre. That alone could actually convince customers to upgrade server machines en masse.

2019 will see the introduction of the Cooper Lake-SP, still a 14nm chip. This one will have many interesting features, like support for Google’s truncated 16-bit Bfloat16 floating point format. What will make it even more interesting, however, is that Intel promises that the platform will be compatible with the 10nm chips that will come later.

Which brings us to Ice Lake, which will be Intel’s first 10nm process silicon due in 2020. Presuming all goes according to schedule this time, of course. But if it’s delayed yet again, customers will at least be able to get Cooper Lake-SP processors and be confident that they will be able to easily upgrade to Ice Lake when the time comes.

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