Intel's move to 7nm chips punted to 2022 or 2023, ceding more ground to AMD

Dell Xps 13 9300 Intel
Dell Xps 13 9300 Intel (Image credit: Daniel Rubino/Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Intel today revealed it has delayed its transition to 7nm chips to late 2022 or early 2023.
  • The delay stems from poor yields, putting the company "approximately 12 months behind" its internal target.
  • Intel expects to launch its first 10nm desktop chips in the second half of 2021.

In its Q2 earnings report today, Intel announced that it has delayed the rollout of its 7nm chips by six months. The company now plans to launch chips based on its 7nm process in late 2022 or early 2023. That's a shift of six months from Intel's previous plans.

"The company's 7nm-based CPU product timing is shifting approximately six months relative to prior expectations," Intel said in its earnings release. "The primary driver is the yield of Intel's 7nm process, which based on recent data, is now trending approximately twelve months behind the company's internal target."

As reported by Tom's Hardware, Intel CEO Bob Swan followed up in the company's earnings call, noting the company "identified a 'defect mode' in its 7nm process." The company has shifted focus to "contingency plans" such as using third-party foundries. Intel also plans to use third-party foundries for its upcoming Ponte Vecchio GPUs.

Aside from its 7nm delay, Intel revealed that it plans to launch its first 10nm "Alder Lake" desktop CPUs in the second half of 2021. Intel's first 10nm "Ice Lake" CPUs arrived in laptops last year. Its upcoming "Tiger Lake" chips, which are also based on a 10nm process, are expected to arrive this fall.

The 7nm delay puts Intel further behind AMD on the process side of things. AMD's latest chips are already built on a 7nm process, and it's likely AMD will have a fair amount of lead time on Intel when its shifts to a 5nm process with its Zen 4 architecture, which is expected to arrive by the end of 2021.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl

  • The board room at AMD must ne popping Champagner bottles. I say great. Not that I wish Intel any harm, but AMD sure has brought a lot of much-needed competition and excitement to the CPU space these past years.
  • Yeah I hope AMD gets to stay either ahead or in the same ballpark, considering AMD also tends to give better igpu's each year (Intel igpu's of Ice Lake were good but they probably only made that step because AMD's igpu's were getting to far ahead). It would be competition for Nvidia too for their entry gpu's (MX150 was decent but the MX250 was basically the same even though it is 2 years newer).
  • Intel's 10nm is equivalent to AMD 7nm+ in density. They do not use the same standards.
    It is still fair to say Intel is behind because they still make 14nm desktop processors, but they make mostly 10nm CPUs for laptops.
  • Nope. Intel only know how to deceive people. They launched 10th gen with few 10nm chips which were really good and power efficient. Then they released 10th gen "14 nm" processors 😂. Seriously? 🤦🏻‍♂️
    Now most laptops use "10th gen" with 14nm variant and pass it off as latest gen. It is really pathetic marketing and business strategy. Manufacturers are also shameless they are putting 14nm variants in 2-in-1s at least have shame not to put those ones in convertibles. On top of that, first I thought maybe they are saving money on the 14nm hence the move, Intel charges exactly the same for both variants 😂. 14nm are fine in desktops I have no problem with. But having a choice of 10nm and 14nm in the same gen and confusing people when the difference in battery life in laptops is more than 1 hr just because of chips is really deceiving. Why not ONLY give 10nm to laptop manufacturers why even have an option of 14nm for a device that runs on battery. If you want to just don't put it under same confusing naming scheme. PS: if the name of the processors ends with G1, G4 etc it is 10nm. And very few laptops are using them you really have to pick out carefully. Saying 10th gen is apparently not enough because it is Intel.
  • But the Ice Lake 10nm cpu's are not optimized so well and the 7nm cpu's from AMD perform better.