It’s been an interesting week for Intel so far, and it’s only just begun. Yesterday, German tech site HardwareLUXX reported that Intel would be shelving its 10nm desktop processor ambitions, meaning we’d only ever be seeing the chips in notebooks or similar devices. As an observer of Intel’s 10nm journey, it’s unfortunately not difficult to believe the news. Intel has had an enormous challenge getting 10nm off of the ground in a notable way, at a time when its competition is seriously aggressive.
Following this news, Intel released a simple statement to deflect it: “We continue to make great progress on 10nm, and our current roadmap of 10nm products includes desktop.” That didn’t sit well with many fans, since it could be spun so many different ways. The mention of “products” rather than “processors” sticks out, but Intel cleared the air with Tom’s Hardware that “Desktop Products” in this party line means “Desktop Processors”.
Intel’s 8-core Core i9-9900KS is due soon
Some have found that this change of tune hasn’t actually changed too much, since if you really want to grasp at straws, Intel could end up releasing 10nm chips only for its NUC line of mini-PCs, and the statement would remain accurate. Given Intel’s difficulty of getting 10nm off of the ground, it’s really hard to know what to believe without Intel being a lot more direct with its message.
At this point, Intel’s 14nm process has been the go-to since June 2015, with the release of Broadwell, and the Core i7-5775C – a chip that included one of the first Intel Iris Pro graphics solutions inside. That series itself was delayed because of 14nm process issues, so to look back, we’re definitely seeing some parallels to today.
Broadwell’s life on the market was short-lived, having lasted two months before being succeeded by the Skylake series in August 2015. That brought the i7-6700K to the table. After that point, we saw the release of Kaby Lake (eg: 7700K), and Coffee Lake (eg: 8700K, 9900K), and are at this point waiting for the next launch, Comet Lake. That series is targeting mobile for now, but things can change. We’re going to need a 9th-gen Core mainstream successor for the desktop at some point.
At the moment, we know that Intel is planning to launch its 5GHz all-core Turbo Core i9-9900KS soon, with its next Core X-series chips hitting the market next month. As we reported earlier this month, this new Core X-series will introduce new pricing that in some cases cuts prices in half compared to the previous generation. That price recalibration wasn’t done without a reason, and it’s probably a really good thing to have made the move ahead of AMD’s third-gen Ryzen Threadripper launch, also expected next month.
In related news, Intel also announced its latest Xeon W CPUs a couple of weeks ago, which is based on Cascade Lake-X just as the upcoming Core X-series are. These chips are targeting the business consumer, especially those who plan to take advantage of ECC memory and Intel’s vPro features.