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Intel Spills Coffee Lake Roadmap

March 7, 2017

Author: Linley Gwennap

At its recent Investor Day meeting, Intel said its mainstream Core processors will remain in 14nm this year instead of moving to 10nm as previously expected. A new PC processor code-named Coffee Lake will support desktop users and mainstream notebooks in 2H17, in time for the holiday sales season. The 10nm Cannonlake should still launch this year as planned, but only in limited volume.

The company declined to explain the reason for this roadmap change, but the 10nm process, which is already a year behind its original schedule, apparently continues to suffer poor yields, preventing a full refresh of the PC lineup. The 14nm process also had initial yield problems, causing a soft launch that included only a few Y-class (subnotebook) processors in 4Q14. We expect a similar scenario for Cannonlake, addressing only certain U-class (ultrathin laptop) and Y-class products while launching in the fourth quarter of this year.

The 14nm problems prevented Intel from offering any new PC processors (except for the Y-class) during all of 2014; desktop PCs and even some laptop models remained with the 22nm Haswell design for a full two years. This situation left PC makers without a new product for their biggest selling season, an experience both they and Intel want to avoid repeating. Thus, the company brewed up Coffee Lake to ensure an across-the-board PC refresh this year regardless of any further 10nm delays. The new processor will replace Kaby Lake, a stopgap announced after the initial 10nm slip.

This situation leaves Cannonlake playing a role similar to Broadwell’s—or perhaps even a smaller one—as the first CPU generation in a new process. The difference this time is that instead of relying on a rewarmed Haswell, mainstream PCs will get a fresh cup of Coffee Lake.

Subscribers can view the full article in the Microprocessor Report.

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