After years of delays, Intel will start shipping 10nm processors in volume this June, the company announced at its 2019 Investor Meeting. The first chips to leave the fabs are intended for notebooks, but Intel will also start making CPUs for clients and servers, FPGAs, AI processors and a GPU in 2019.
Intel originally intended to release 10nm chips in 2016, but it has been struggling to get the yield up to acceptable levels. According to the company, this was due to aggressive scaling choices as well as the implementation of several new technologies such as cobalt interconnects and self-aligned quad patterning lithography.
It seems Intel intends to return to a more ‘traditional’ two-year cadence for process technology upgrades, as commencement of 7nm shipments is scheduled for 2021. This will be Intel’s first product line that relies on EUV lithography for patterning the most complex layers.
On the other hand, executives at the event explained that the company is transitioning from the historical tick-tock rhythm of brute scaling to a more diverse innovation strategy. For example, Intel is betting heavily on heterogeneous devices, consisting of different chiplets, each produced with a process technology that is most appropriate for their function.