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Intel vows to ship 10nm chips in early 2017, retracts its promise

While Intel Corp. has confirmed development of 10nm fabrication process as well as appropriate microprocessors, the company has never revealed exactly when it plans to introduce chips that will succeed its next-generation code-named “Skylake” CPUs. A couple of weeks ago a representative for Intel finally said that its first 10nm chips would be available in early 2017. Unfortunately, this week the company retracted its statement.

“We have been consistently pursuing Moore’s Law and this has been the core of our innovation for the last 40 years,” said Taha Khalifa, general manager for Intel in the Middle East and North Africa region, in an interview with Gulf News. “The 10nm chips are expected to be launched early 2017.”

Intel was expected to start mass production of central processing units code-named “Cannonlake” using 10nm manufacturing technology in the second half of 2016, a year after the company plans to introduce its code-named “Skylake” microprocessors. The “Cannonlake” chips will be powered by the same micro-architecture as the “Skylake” CPUs. If the statement from Intel is correct, then the company’s 10nm chips will hit production slightly later than expected, in the late fourth quarter of 2016, which means that the products will hit the market in early 2017.

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Unfortunately, this week the world’s largest chipmaker retracted its comment and said that its 10nm processors “are under development”, but the company at present does not discuss timing “for competitive reasons”.

Even though Intel does not want anyone to consider Q1 2017 as the timeframe for the launch of the code-named “Cannonlake” processors, it is highly likely that the company will indeed introduce its first 10nm chips in Q4 2016 or the first half of 2017.

Back in September the company showcased its first wafers processed using 10nm fabrication technology, but it did not reveal any details about the process or its plans. The only thing currently known about Intel’s 10nm production tech is that it will continue to use FinFET transistors and will not rely on EUV [extreme ultraviolet] lithography.

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KitGuru Says: Intel is traditionally the first company to adopt new process technologies. Therefore, it is highly likely that the chipmaker will be the first to adopt 10nm fabrication process as well. Given that companies like TSMC, Samsung or GlobalFoundries all consider 2017 to be the first year of 10nm production, it is logical to expect Intel to be ahead of them.

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