Moore’s Law slows and so does chipmaker Intel
Intel announces it will add a third 14nm microprocessor, Kaby Lake, to its roadmap
Intel has announced that it will add a third 14nm microprocessor, Kaby Lake, to its roadmap, disrupting the steady tick-tock pace of the PC market as Moore’s Law slows.
For Intel and the PC industry, adding Kaby Lake to the roadmap is a bombshell. Every two years like clockwork, Intel has released two products: a version of an older chip on a more advanced manufacturing process, followed by a brand-new processor design on the same manufacturing node.
That cadence, which Intel refers to as its “tick tock” manufacturing strategy, was upended recently when Intel said that it would add the Kaby Lake chip to follow the Skylake chip that Intel will launch this fall. Intel’s shift to the next-generation 10nm process will now take place in the second half of 2017, roughly two-and-a-half years after Intel moved from the 14nm node.
To recap, then, Intel’s roadmap looks as though this: Intel launched the 14nm ‘Broadwell’ fifth-generation Core chips earlier this year. Intel’s sixthgeneration Core chip, ‘Skylake’, also a 14nm product, has been qualified as a product and will roll out this fall. ‘Kaby Lake’, another redesigned chip on the 14nm node, will ship in the second half of 2016. And Intel expects the first 10nm chip, ‘Cannon Lake’, to ship in the second half of 2017.
As Moore’s Law slows, so does the pace of PC demand: Intel reported lower revenue and profits as the market waits to buy Windows 10 PCs, including the Skylake processor, and the PC market continues to slow worldwide.
This matters because Intel is often viewed as the gold standard of manufacturing in the semiconductor industry, so any slowdown will send ripples through its competitors. Intel chief executive Brian Krzanich has enjoyed a manufacturing technology lead over his competitors. Intel may have handed back some of that lead. It remains to be seen whether Intel’s competitors will adjust their manufacturing timetables, too.