Did Intel Just Delay Cherry Trail Again?

At Intel's (NASDAQ: INTC  ) annual stockholders' meeting, CEO Brian Krzanich gave an update on Intel's business. One interesting tidbit from that update is that Intel is planning on launching its next-generation Cherry Trail 14-nanometer product for tablets during the first half of 2015, a slight delay from the prior expectations that the platform would be shipping at the end of 2014.

Cherry Trail gets yet another delay
According to this slide from VR-Zone, Intel's Cherry Trail was originally expected to land in September 2014, which would have meant a launch at the company's annual developer forum in San Francisco.

Source: VR-Zone.

As you can see, the first Cherry Trail product was intended for launch in September 2014, but thanks to the 14-nanometer manufacturing delay, it was moved to November 2014. Then, in Intel's Mobile World Congress presentation, Hermann Eul -- the GM of the Mobile & Communications Group -- claimed that Cherry Trail would launch at the end of 2014.

Source: Intel.

Now, it looks as though Intel is merely committing to a "first half of 2015" launch/ramp for the Cherry Trail product. While this isn't entirely unexpected, particularly as Intel's Silvermont-based products (Merrifield, Moorefield, and Bay Trail) haven't really had a lot of time to ramp, it is a disappointment nonetheless.

Intel isn't the only one experiencing delays
While there are companies that try to give the impression that moving to more advanced products and to more sophisticated manufacturing technologies is getting "easier" over time, the truth is that this stuff is hard. Designing and validating next-generation designs on increasingly complex manufacturing technologies is no cakewalk.

For example, Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM  ) announced its next-generation Snapdragon 805 at its own analyst day last year and claimed that it would be available in devices by the first half of 2014. The first half of 2014 is on its way out and not a single Snapdragon 805 design is available on the market. In Qualcomm's most recent road map, Snapdragon 805 will now be coming to devices in the second half of 2014 and its Snapdragon 808/810 parts (20-nanometer) will be in devices during the first half of 2015.

Semiconductors are a tough business, and while the marketing departments from every company wants to claim that the future is "easier," it's really not and you should almost always expect delays.

What does this mean for Broxton?
The big question now is what happens with Broxton. Intel has always set expectations that this is a mid-2015 product and that it would be the one to really fundamentally change Intel's competitive positioning. Cherry Trail is a tablet-only product, so if Intel wants to be able to compete with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 808/810 for smartphones launching in the back-half of 2015, it can't really afford to delay Broxton any further.

Intel is likely to give a more detailed update about its mobile product road maps at the Computex trade show in Taipei, Taiwan, next month and for Intel investors, this will be something well worth paying attention to.

Foolish bottom line
At the end of the day, Intel really needs to be accelerating its mobile road map if it ever plans to be the leader in this space that it is investing to be. Yes, designing ever more complex chips is extremely difficult, and, yes, moving to next-generation process technology is difficult, but Intel is spending a lot of money in this space and, despite the extreme difficulty of catching up, Intel needs to do it to stay relevant in the long run. 

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Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On May 24, 2014, at 11:20 AM, SSchlesinger wrote:

    This is really fair analysis of the situation. Going sub-20nm is extremely difficult. For ARM its hard for them to go sub-28nm. Expect to see delays on all sides moving forward.

  • Report this Comment On May 24, 2014, at 4:09 PM, stretcho44 wrote:

    I think I have figured out what you are trying to say. "Cherry Trail had a slip from Sep 2014 to Nov 2014 and is now having a second slip to the first half of 2015."

    Correct?

    Slip #1 (2 months Sep to Nov): The VR-Zone slide (no link) shows Cherry Trail release in Sept 2014 slipped to Nov 2014.The second Hermann Eul slide (no link) confirms the VR-ZONE end of 2014 date.

    Slip #2 (2-8 months Nov to 1H2015): Brian Krzanich comment on shipping during the first half of 2015 (18:30 minutes into annual meeting).

    Since you did not publish the links to the slides you used, I would have liked the date information on them. The VR-ZONE slide was obviously published in 2013 since it still shows Merrifield and Bay Trail Android in Q1/14.

    I think that all products based on Intel 14nm slipped when Intel had their 14nm yield burp last year.

  • Report this Comment On May 24, 2014, at 8:55 PM, rav55 wrote:

    @Ashraf

    Why is it when Intel reports a slip in production you remark that it is a disappointment.

    However when AMD slips you are all over it like scum on a pond railing at AMD's impending demise and how it will spiral them into bankruptcy?

    You are not an unbiased writer. In fact you do your Intel readers a great disservce by not calling Intel out on the carpet when they mistep.

    Blunders in leadership should never be excused or rationalised. But rather leaders should be always questioned least they allow their hubris to make them believe in their own infallibility. Look up the definition of hubirs and there is Intel.

    So why did you raise the question of Cherry Trails delay without exploring the possible answers or at the very least make use of your contacts and write a piece that not only would be informative but useful?

    Your purpose for this piece was not to be investigative but rather apologetic. That makes this piece irrelevant for any due diligence and you inept at analytical writing. It's just another Intel puff piece from the desk of Ashraf Easa.

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