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posted by takyon on Saturday April 28 2018, @11:29PM   Printer-friendly
from the decadeometer dept.

Intel on Thursday announced that it would delay mass production of its 10 nm processors from 2018 to 2019 due to yield issues. The company has claimed to be shipping some of its 10 nm chips in small volumes right now, but due to cost reasons the firm does not intend to initiate their high-volume manufacturing (HVM) at this time. Intel executives also stated that they are confident of their product roadmap and intend to launch Whiskey Lake and Cascade Lake products later this year.

[...] Intel blames a very high transistor density and consequent heavy use of multipatterning for low yields. Brian Krzanich has said that in certain cases the company needs to use quad (4x), penta (5x), or hexa (6x) patterning for select features as they need to expose the wafer up to six times to "draw" one feature. This not only lengthens Intel's manufacturing cycle (which by definition rises costs) and the number of masks it uses, but also has an effect on yields.

Intel's 10 nm fabrication technology relies solely on deep ultraviolet (DUV) lithography with lasers operating on a 193 nm wavelength at this time. The company's 7 nm manufacturing process will use extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography with laser wavelength of 13.5 nm for select layers, eliminating use of extreme multipatterning for certain metal layers. As it appears, right now Intel executives do not consider EUV technology ready for prime time in 2019, so the company's engineers have to polish off the last DUV-only process (again) rather than jump straight to 7 nm.

The delay means another generation of "14nm" products:

Intel does not elaborate whether it intends to ship (in volume) its 10 nm CPUs in the first half or the second half of 2019, but only says that the company’s engineers know the source of the yield problems and are working hard to fix them. As a result, it is pretty safe to assume that the actual ramp of Intel’s 10 nm production will begin towards the second half of next year.

In a bid to stay competitive before its 10-nm CPUs ship in the H2 2019 – H1 2020 (production ramp takes time, bigger processors will launch later than smaller parts), Intel plans to release another generation of products made using its 14 nm process tech. This generation of chips includes Whiskey Lake products for client PCs and Cascade Lake for the datacenter, and both are scheduled for release later this year.

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  • (Score: 2) by requerdanos on Sunday April 29 2018, @06:33PM (2 children)

    by requerdanos (5997) Subscriber Badge on Sunday April 29 2018, @06:33PM (#673450) Journal

    Meanwhile AMD readies 5nm chips ... with twice as many cores. Intel was finished as soon as Andy Grove left the building.

    I like AMD. I want them to not only succeed, but win and be the dominant CPU maker for the masses.

    On the other hand, AMD's bright shiny 2018 release, Ryzen R7 2700X (CPUMARK score 17180), struggles to keep up with a Xeon E52697v2 from 2013 (CPUMARK score 17440). What were they doing with those 5 years (besides FX)?

    You mention "Moar Cores", and it's a joke, sure, but it's not a joke written by a comedian--it's AMD's best hope right now to do anything better than that Ryzen, other than perhaps a separately-housed liquid nitrogen factory cooler. Their "Threadripper" Moar Cores CPUs are just multiple Ryzens in a honkin big package.

    Let's say they start doing that at 5nm, okay, then if the past decade is any guide, they will be the hottest, slowest 5nm chips ever, plus AMD will find a separate way to handicap them that surprises everyone.

    And speaking of CPUMARK [], you can read there that Intel makes every one of today's 15 fastest x86 processors. AMD cracks the list down at #16 with a Threadripper from 2017. Some of those top 15 Intel chips are from 2014 or 2015. This shows that a lead time or a headstart is likely to be of little value to AMD in terms of performance.

    I was grieved when I heard of Mr. Grove's passing a few years ago; he was indeed a great engineer and a great leader. But Intel kept going strong and they are beating the pants off AMD at CPU speed*. Maybe that will change, but nothing I read here signals such a change.

    * Ironically, it is largely AMD's own fault. Intel has proven that they are quite content to make only minimal-to-no advances in the face of low or lackluster competition, but AMD, by doing things through the years like their 486DX4 that approached the speed of early Pentium chips, to K5 and K6 chips that had higher IPC than their Intel counterparts, to the revolutionary and monumental invention of 64-bit x86 processors, has provided that competition that has forced Intel to be an innovator. And Intel is an 800lb gorilla of an innovator when they are forced to be.

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  • (Score: 2) by tibman on Sunday April 29 2018, @08:35PM (1 child)

    by tibman (134) Subscriber Badge on Sunday April 29 2018, @08:35PM (#673477)

    All of those top CPUs are over $1,000. Those aren't CPUs for anyone but military and businesses with deep pockets. Meanwhile, AMDs latest consumer release, the R7 2700x has 17,174 points for $329.99 (going by that graph).

    Intel's current best consumer processor is the i7-8700k which has 16,047 points for 339.99. Intel has brand inertia right now, not a better consumer product.

    "Moar Cores" isn't a joke. It's AMD's latest innovation. Not more cores on one die. But more cores that can be repackaged together via their cpu fabric. That lets them scale their CPUs up without scaling their die size up and lose more CPUs due to manufacturing defects. Which is the issue Intel is having with their 10nm process.

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    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 30 2018, @01:19AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 30 2018, @01:19AM (#673555)

      Don't forget that you actually get this nice little feature called "Meltdown" on Intel CPUs for that kind of performance.