backtop


Print 43 comment(s) - last by KOOLTIME.. on Feb 22 at 3:00 PM

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]



Comments     Threshold


This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: Not a bad thing
By TakinYourPoints on 2/18/2012 11:23:05 PM , Rating: 2
Your reasoning sort of works. PC hardware is clearly more powerful, but at the same time console hardware can scale better over longer periods of time since the platform is static and there is significantly less overhead compared to a normal desktop operating system.

Developers can squeeze every bit of performance out of that hardware. Compare a launch PS2 game from 1999 like The Bouncer to a 2007 game like God Of War 2. It looks like a multigenerational leap in visuals, and it stood up very well against the XBox 360 and PS3 games at the time.

Obviously there is only so much you can push hardware, and the PS2 was bled dry by the time God Of War 2 came out. That said, a 1999 PC certainly wouldn't be able to run even a 2005 game well.

Because of that, comparing CPU/GPU specs of consoles to PCs doesn't make for the best argument, only because developers can optimize for static, low overhead platforms more than they can with hardware that is a moving target with a full operating system running on top of it.

Otherwise I agree with you, a 2007 build is much more legit in 2012 compared to a 2001 build in 2007. It is the same logic that applied to office software and things like that, there was a point where hardware started to matter much less about 10 years ago, and the same is happening with games now.


RE: Not a bad thing
By jabber on 2/20/2012 12:54:15 PM , Rating: 2
I think the major turning point was the advent of proper dual core CPUs.

Once we hit those then 90% of the worlds users were sorted power wise for browsing,Word,Excel etc. in terms of being able to do more then two things at once without the whole PC grinding to a halt.

Really the truly high-end CPU market is only for true research/number crunching or benchmark junkies.

Then again do the labs buy the $1000 Intel CPU or do they buy four $250 ones instead?


"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings














botimage
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki