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Technical Faults Knock Intel's Broadwell Chip Into 2014

Technical Faults Knock Intel's Broadwell Chip Into 2014
By Nancy Owano

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Blip, slip, or slide? In any manufacturing sector, product delays are not a good thing. In the case of Intel delaying its Broadwell chip, however, analysts acknowledge that Intel is dealing with a complex technology that above all needs to be right, not just ready.
 

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Call it a manufacturing snag. A glitch. A blip. A matter of quality control. No matter how you phrase it, the news from Intel was that the chipmaking giant had a setback that has caused it to delay its new Intel chip until next year.

Production of Intel’s next-generation chip, Broadwell, will begin in Q1 of 2014, about three months behind earlier projections.

Broadwell is Intel’s new 14nm chip based on a 14 nanometer manufacturing technology that puts Intel ahead of its rivals still working with 20nm processes.

The Broadwell chips are to follow Intel's Haswell processors, similarly made using the 22-nanometer process. The technical step forward will eventually translate into PC products that will be more power efficient and faster.

Tuesday Earnings Call

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich reported the news on an earnings call to analysts on Tuesday. With so much anticipation over Broadwell, why the delay?

Krzanich explained a key factor had to do with “defect density” and yields, involving the number of good chips that can be used in the development process. When defects are seen, Intel then inserts a set of fixes. But in working with Broadwell, the fixes did not show they could deliver all the improvements that had been anticipated.

As important, is the news that Intel has the difficulty under control. According to Intel, the the chipmaker added fixes and now it has the data that shows the problem is fixed.

Chief Financial Officer Stacy Smith told Reuters, "We're not happy with the one-quarter push but it does point to how difficult these problems are to solve." He said the delay would not affect the competitiveness of Intel's product lineup.

Slipping, Not Sliding

Intel and its partners have a strong desire to get Broadwell to the market, Krzanich said, and Intel will continue on. He said it was a "small blip in the schedule."

Blip, slip, or slide? Obviously, Intel needs to be responsive to market conditions and shifts in consumer tastes with product designs that respond in a timely fashion. In any manufacturing sector, product delays are not good. In the Broadwell instance, however, analyst reactions appeared to acknowledge that Intel is dealing with a complex technology that, above all, needs to be right, not just ready.

As a company with chips that power most computers and servers, the company has achieved a market position and track record, say analysts, that is not easily eroded. The delay news is being received by and large as a technical mis-step dealing with a considerable technical challenge in a 14nm manufacturing process.

At the Intel Developer Forum last month, Krzanich spoke about the firm's14nm chip microarchitecture. He said at the time that the first Broadwell processors would ship by the end of the year and be available in products next year. He noted that Broadwell shrinks the die size of Haswell to 14nm, representing a 30 percent power improvement as well as performance gains.
 

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Cody:

Posted: 2013-10-28 @ 10:20am PT
Gives them all the more time to get their stuff right with broadwell. Fine with me since I have no reason to upgrade my 4770k yet, but I'm glad I've got something to look forward to! Take your time Intel.



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