A little while back, noted tech leaker "chrisdar" indicated that chip giant Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) was planning yet another generation of products built using a derivative of its 14-nanometer chip manufacturing technology for the second half of 2018.
Generally speaking, manufacturing technologies designated by smaller nanometer values tend to be denser and more power-efficient than technologies labeled with larger values (when comparing technologies from the same manufacturer).
Intel had originally planned to begin producing processors based on its upcoming 10-nanometer technology by the end of 2015 for launch in 2016, but the schedule was repeatedly pushed out. The company's official stance is that it intends to begin shipping the first products manufactured using its 10-nanometer technology by the end of 2017, with volume shipments ramping up through next year.
However, considering that a reputable leaker recently claimed that Intel is prepping a new product for the second-half of 2018 known as Whiskey Lake for high-volume notebook computers -- a product that's highly likely to be built using Intel's 14-nanometer++ technology -- it's becoming clear that shipments of Intel 10-nanometer products in 2018 will be minimal.
The good news is this: The same leaker that recently revealed Intel's plans with respect to Whiskey Lake just posted some information about when Intel's second-generation 10-nanometer product, known as Ice Lake, will become available.
Ice Lake launches in first half of 2019
Per "chrisdar," the low-power Ice Lake-Y chips for fan-less notebooks and 2-in-1 laptop/tablet hybrids and the Ice Lake-U chips targeted at mainstream notebook PCs are expected to go into production between the very end of 2018 to early in 2019 for system availability sometime between February and May.
This means that when PC makers prepare new laptops ahead of the typical back-to-school selling season, they should be able to equip them with these new Ice Lake chips.
Intel's Ice Lake processors promise to bring significant improvements in performance, features, and power efficiency compared to preceding parts thanks to long-overdue changes in chip architecture, as well as the use of a much more efficient manufacturing technology to build the chips.
Better late than never
Even with the significant issues that the company has had in trying to bring its 10-nanometer technology into production, the company has done a reasonable job of bringing out products built using derivatives of its older 14-nanometer technology to buy itself more time.
Nevertheless, it's clear that Intel is facing what seems to be unprecedented difficulties in trying to get products built using its 10-nanometer technology out the door.
For some perspective, Intel's 14-nanometer technology first went into mass production in the middle of 2014, with significant volume shipments of 14-nanometer product happening during 2015. It'll have been about four years for Intel to go from building mass-market 14-nanometer processors to mass-market 10-nanometer processors.
Intel management needs to do an open and honest assessment of what went wrong with the development of this technology generation and roll those lessons into the development of its 7-nanometer technology and beyond to ensure this situation doesn't happen again.