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Intel hopes to reach full production capacity after a two month delay

Just months ago at the 2011 Intel Developer Forum, executives with the world's largest traditional personal computer chipmaker, Intel Corp. (INTC) were all boast and bravado, saying their competitors were years behind in process.  Indeed, the talk about the dramatic gains in terms of power efficiency and clock speed using Intel's proprietary 22 nm FinFET 3D-transistor design sounded very impressive.

But the first chinks in the armor perhaps began to show at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, when Intel was caught faking its 22 nm Ivy Bridge DirectX 11 demo during its ultrabook pitch.  Intel brushed off the trickery, but the incident raised some serious questions.  If the 22 nm chip was launching in April at production volume and had already been taped out in final form, why would Intel have to use canned video?  Why couldn't it show its real product?  Why the obfuscation??

Well, DigiTimes is reporting that multiple OEM sources have shared that Ivy Bridge is being delayed from April to June.  While not a huge delay, the report raises questions about whether Intel's 22 nm process is as stable as it claims.

To be fair, the OEMs appear to be claiming that the delay is due to inventories:
Because most first-tier notebook vendors are having trouble digesting their Sandy Bridge notebook inventories due to the weak global economy, while Intel is also troubled by its Sandy Bridge processor inventory, the CPU giant plans to delay mass shipments of the new processors to minimize the impact, the sources noted.

In other words, PCs didn't sell well in 2011, Intel built up a surplus of CPUs, and so it wants to delay its release.  This is all very plausible, and indeed lines up with write-offs found in Intel's earnings reports.  

But it is also possible that Intel isn't being entirely forthcoming and that Ivy Bridge wasn't being delivered at the reliable high volumes it had hoped.  And it could very well be a bit of both factors -- too high inventories, and some struggles on the process front.

Regardless, it sounds like customers will have to wait on Ivy Bridge, a bit.

That's good news for the competition.  AMD hopes to aggressively roll out its Trinity accelerated processing units (APUs) later this year.  The chips are built on a 32 nm process (GlobalFoundries), but still aim to be competitive with Ivy Bridge in terms of power consumption and graphics performance.  AMD is gambling that the CPU will lose, processing speed-wise, to Ivy Bridge, but be "good enough" for most consumers.  

Trinity in the wild
AMD's Trinity APU (center) will launch later this year and aggressively target would-be Intel Ivy Bridge buyers by offering improved graphics and power efficiency at a lower price. [Image Source: Jason Mick/DailyTech]

AMD hopes to price its chip + chipset package at hundreds of dollars beneath Intel.  Where as Intel is targeting systems $700 and up, AMD has stated to us that Trinity systems will retail for $500 or less.  Strong 2011 APU sales of AMD's initial swing at this strategy made it look like a home run.

Likewise, ARM CPU makers, including Qualcomm, Inc. (QCOM) are looking to invade laptops and compact desktops late this year, with the introduction of 28 nm ARM CPUs compatible with Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFTnew Windows 8 [1][2][3][4][5][6].  The Q4 2012 devices are expected to follow a strategy similar to AMD's -- strong power efficiency at a low price.

The delay is also good news for third party USB 3.0 chipmakers like Renesas Electronics Corp. (TYO:6723), ASMedia Technology Inc., and Etron Ltd.  As Ivy Bridge was the first Intel chip to include on-die USB 3.0 support, it was expected to render these competitors' designs obsolete.  But now, they have been bought a bit more time.

Intel's core hope in terms of maintaining its dominant position is to beat the competition in process, and trickle down its process improvements into its budget models, mitigating cost and architectural disadvantages.  Intel has made big promises [1][2] regarding Atom-powered smartphones, but without 22 nm technology it appears to be forgoing any sort of big mobile push in 2012.  The longer it waits, the more advantage it gives to the hungry rivals.  Intel should hope that the delay does not set back its very aggressive 22 nm Atom rollout.

Sources: DigiTimes, MaximumPC [faked Intel Demo]



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Intel's "faked demo"
By JarredWalton on 2/17/2012 3:41:24 PM , Rating: 3
Really, do we need to go there? "If the 22 nm chip was launching in April at production volume and had already been taped out in final form, why would Intel have to use canned video? Why couldn't it show its real product? Why the obfuscation??"

There's a simple reason for this, and it's called doing a presentation with someone that doesn't want anything to go wrong. If you actually play a game, you run the risk of random problems. Things like, oh I dunno, the driver in DiRT 3 sucking and looking like an idiot for one, or there's always a risk of BSOD (even if small).

I worked software development for a few years back in 98-01, and we put together a demo at one point for a show. A canned video would have been awesome if we could have pulled it off. As it turned out, our CEO decided to branch out from our demo script and "do something really amazing" for the audience, and because the idiot strayed from the tested path he encountered errors and ended up looking like a fool. Well, he was a fool.

Anyway, I saw IVB running DiRT 3 in person on the same ultrabook and it worked. Was it fully stable? Who knows -- they didn't let us play the game for a few hours to find out. They also didn't let us see the final score from the benchmark run, which is one more reason to not do the demo live on stage -- e.g. what if something were to go wrong and the final DiRT 3 benchmark score got revealed? The delays could be from any number of things, but knowing Intel I'm guessing Trinity is probably targeting June as well.




RE: Intel's "faked demo"
By TakinYourPoints on 2/17/2012 8:45:06 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Really, do we need to go there?


You do know that this kind of reporting is par for the course here, right?

I have no idea why you and Anand maintain one of the best tech sites out there and at the same time keep these guys on the sidebar. It is like having The Economist run columns from the National Enquirer.


"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007














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