During Intel's (NASDAQ:INTC) investor meeting held on Nov. 20, Kirk Skaugen -- who heads up the company's PC Client Group -- showed a roadmap illustrating the company's rough PC product launch plans for 2015, which is reproduced below:
Note that Intel claims its next-generation Celeron/Pentium products are coming in the second half of 2015. Now, CPU World reported previously that Braswell was supposed to be a 1Q 2015 launch, but that it kept getting pushed out. According to CPU World, production of these processors is now slated to start between April and June 2015, for shipment at some point between June and August 2015.
A question I have been asking myself is, simply, why did Intel delay Braswell?
The simplest explanation: cost
It is well known that Intel has been having problems getting its 14-nanometer manufacturing technology to yield at economically acceptable levels. Although the company describes the current yield rate of its 14-nanometer technology as being in a "healthy range," Intel indicated that the yields still aren't where the prior generation technology was at this stage of its ramp.
In fact, for the company's mainstream Broadwell products, it expects costs will actually remain higher than those for the 22-nanometer Haswell family of products until the third quarter of 2015, as illustrated below:
Keep in mind Intel's Braswell is intended to be a very low-cost part for entry-level desktops and notebooks. While Intel can take a couple of quarters of elevated costs to get Broadwell right for the higher-value segments of the PC business, it has the luxury of waiting until Braswell's manufacturing costs are lower than last year's 22-nanometer Bay Trail's costs for more cost-sensitive PCs.
It really doesn't seem like a coincidence that Intel plans to start production of Braswell around the time at which it expects 14-nanometer costs to cross below 22-nanometer costs.
Does this delay hurt Intel's competitive positioning?
In the low-cost PC space, Intel has very successfully gained market segment share with its 22-nanometer Bay Trail-M and Bay Trail-D products. Those products offer strong CPU performance for their price and power levels, but are lacking on the graphics side of things relative to offerings from AMD (NASDAQ:AMD).
I suspect Intel's success is due to the fact that the company has a very competitive cost structure not only at the chip level, but at the platform level as well.
Intel indicated at its developer forum this year in Shenzhen that it has been working to significantly reduce the platform bill of materials costs for its Bay Trail-M/D products. Since the low-end PC market is focused more on cost than on performance, these Bay Trail products may continue to hold their own against AMD's newly announced Carrizo-L until Braswell arrives.