At a recent investor conference, Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) CEO Brian Krzanich provided a small update on the company's progress and plans with respect to new chip-manufacturing technologies.
Indeed, Intel often touts its chip-manufacturing prowess as a competitive advantage that helps it build more efficient and more cost-effective products than its competitors can, so it's worth keeping tabs on the progress the chipmaker reports here.
Without further ado, here's what Krzanich had to say.
10-nanometer coming at the end of the year
Intel began commercial shipments of the first chips built on its 14-nanometer technology in the second half of 2014. The company had originally planned to begin volume shipments of products built using its next-generation 10-nanometer technology in 2016, but development issues led to the push out of those first products.
According to Krzanich, Intel plans to begin the first commercial shipments of processors built using the first iteration of its 10-nanometer technology by the end of the year, with more robust volume shipments happening as 2018 progresses.
7-nanometer in either 2020 or 2021
Krzanich also offered some insight into when we should expect to see the company ship the first products based on its 7-nanometer technology, noting that such shipments should happen between two and three years after the first 10-nanometer shipments occur.
Two years after the first production shipments of 10-nanometer chips would put the first production shipments of 7-nanometer chips at between early 2020 to early 2021.
Not much change on 10-nano, uncertainty around 7-nano
What Intel has disclosed here with respect to its 10-nanometer technology isn't much different from what the company already said a few months back. The company had previously indicated that it would begin its first 10-nanometer product shipments by either the end of this year or the beginning of next year, and it seems the company is still on track to that.
With respect to 7-nanometer -- which Intel didn't really address at its Technology and Manufacturing Day -- it seems to me that there's a high degree of uncertainty. Reading between the lines a bit, I sense that Intel aspires to get this technology into volume manufacturing in early 2020, but it's putting the appropriate plans in place to be able to handle a slip into early 2021.
Intel has said it intends to move to a "data-center first" strategy, whereby it transitions its products aimed at data-center applications to new manufacturing technologies first, with products for its other segments, such as the client computing group and the Internet of Things group, transitioning to those technologies later.
I suspect that Intel isn't betting on shipping non-data-center products using the 7-nanometer technology until the 2021 time frame anyway, so the impact here is probably going to be exclusively on Intel's data-center product strategy.
If I'm reading into this correctly, Intel is going to need a "Plan A" as well as a "Plan B" with respect to the data-center products it launches in the 2020 time frame. The "Plan A" would presumably consist of chips using Intel's 7-nanometer technology, while the "Plan B" could consist of chips built using Intel's 10-nanometer++ technology.
We'll see how Intel ultimately executes, but given that past performance is a reasonable, though not foolproof, indicator of future success, I expect that we won't see the first 7-nanometer products from Intel until 2021.