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Intel delays 7nm CPU release to at least 2022

The US chipmaker’s woes deepen as shares plunge 9% despite better-than-expected financial results

Intel has delayed its 7nm CPU product roadmap by six months, with customers and investors being warned not to expect products fitted with these chips until 2022 or 2023 at the earliest.

Yields for its 7nm processors are also 12 months behind the company’s internal targets, meaning the chip giant isn’t on course to deliver these products in an economically viable way, the company has admitted.

“The company's 7nm-based CPU product timing is shifting approximately six months relative to prior expectations,” Intel admitted, as it released its second quarter financial results. “The primary driver is the yield of Intel's 7nm process, which based on recent data, is now trending approximately twelve months behind the company's internal target.”

The delay is being caused by a “defect mode” in the 7nm process that caused a degradation in yield, according to CEO Bob Swan, speaking on the earnings call for its Q2 financial results, as reported by Tom’s Hardware.

The news of a delay puts Intel further back against AMD than many would have anticipated, given the 7nm Ryzen 4000 series, a comparable chipset against the one Intel plans to roll out, is already available for systems integrators. Desktops fitted with AMD’s 7nm chips are also expected to be introduced before the end of the year.

The Intel delay further adds fuel to the suggestions that Intel has been in steady decline over the course of the last few months. Indeed the news caused Intel shares plunged by 8.7%, according to Seeking Alpha, with rival AMD gaining 6%. This assertion of a slipping crown is also exemplified by the fact that Nvidida recently overtook the manufacturer as being the most valuable US chipmaker.

Ironically, however, Intel recorded an estimate-beating quarterly revenue of $19.7 billion, a 20% year-on-year growth. This is also forecast to translate to a full-year 2020 revenue of approximately $75 billion. The company’s success was driven mainly by a 34% data-centric revenue rise, as well as a 7% PC-centric growth against the second quarter of 2019.

While the company’s 7nm news is a disappointment, plans to accelerate its transition to 10nm products this year have accelerated, following increased volumes and strong demand. A growing portfolio of 10nm ‘Tiger Lake’ processors are launching soon, with the first 10nm ‘Ice Lake’ CPU still planned for release by the end of the year.

The second half of 2021 will also see Intel release a new line of client CPUs dubbed ‘Alder Lake’, which will include its first 10nm-based desktop CPU, as well as a 10nm-based server CPU code-named ‘Sapphire Rapids’.

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