CHIPMAKER Intel has confirmed that its eighth generation of core CPUs, codenamed 'Coffee Lake', will launch in the second half of the year. However, this processor won't be based on the much-touted 10nm architecture, instead opting once again for 14nm technology.
This is not only a surprise because Intel has made such a hoo-ha over its move to 10nm technology but because this will be the fourth consecutive generation to use it, with Broadwell, SkyLake and Kaby Lake taking us all the way back to 2014.
In February of last year, Intel denied a further delay for 10nm beyond 2017, and just last month promised that 10nm chips would be coming this year.
It's all quite embarrassing for a company that is already abandoned one strategy known as "Tick-Tock", which was meant to see each consecutive generation either shrinking the die or replacing the architecture. This time last year this was replaced by a three-phase cycle, but today's news suggests that Intel has been unable to stick to this either.
In spite of this, Intel is still promising that Coffee Lake will give a 15 per cent performance boost over its predecessor but it's going to take some clever coding to take this particular die to the very edge of its performance.
With 10nm off the table for this round, at least, it's worth noting that even when it does come Intel plans to roll it out (codenamed Cannon Lake) in data centres before we plebs get our grubby little mitts on it. This is most likely the type of chip that will be produced at "Fab 42", the new facility in Arizona that has recently been released from mothballs.
It's still not entirely clear what is behind this decision but we do know that several mobile phones that were expected to have 10nm chips won't as it appears Samsung is hogging them all for the forthcoming Galaxy S8.
It does appear that Intel is moving over to a more fluid production style and "you'll get it when it's ready" mentality. Which is fine and dandy because it gets new products into our hands a lot quicker. However, the big question will be what this does for Moore's Law. µ
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