Intel Starts Qualification of Ice Lake CPUs, Raises 10nm Volume Expectation for 2019by Anton Shilov on April 25, 2019 5:14 PM EST
During its Q1 earnings call, Intel provided an update regarding its 10 nm process technology as well as the ramp up of its Ice Lake-U processor for notebooks, which is the company’s first 10 nm design that will be mass produced and broadly available. Qualification for the new processors has already started, so systems based on Ice Lake-U will be available by the holidays, as promised. Furthermore, Intel believes that it will be able to ship more 10 nm parts than it originally anticipated.
Ice Lake-U in 2019
Intel started production of its Ice Lake-U processors in Q1, but Intel has been building up a stockpile of them first before they are sent to PC makers for qualification. Once the CPUs are qualified — something that Intel expects to happen in Q2 — the manufacturer can start sales/shipments of these CPUs, which will likely happen in Q3. Considering the lead-time required to get built systems on to store shelves, Ice Lake-U-based PCs are on track to hit the market in Q4 (something Intel reaffirmed today).
Intel’s Ice Lake-U is a quad-core processor based on the codenamed Sunny Cove microarchitecture. Among other notable features, on the CPU side of matters Ice Lake-U supports VNNI and Cryptographic ISA instructions, as well as Intel's long, long awaited support for LPDDR4X memory. Meanwhile on the GPU side of matters, this is the first chip to integrate Intel’s Gen11 iGPU, which with up to 64 execution units, promises a big step up in performance. The CPU will be paired with a chipset natively supporting Thunderbolt 3, 802.11ax Wi-Fi, and a number of other innovations. The whole Ice Lake-U package is expected to have a TDP of 15 W, so the product will be able to address thin-and-light and mainstream laptops.
10 nm Volume Goals Increased
It is noteworthy that Intel now expects to ship more processors made using its 10 nm process technology than originally anticipated this year as it can produce more these CPUs.
“On the [10 nm] process technology front, our teams executed well in Q1 and our velocity is increasing,” said Bob Swan, CEO of Intel. “We remain on track to have volume client systems on shelves for the holiday selling season. And over the past four months, the organization drove a nearly 2X improvement in the rate at which 10nm products move through our factories.”
Ice-Lake-SP Xeons in 2020
As for 10 nm ramp in general, Intel is only talking about producing its relatively small Ice Lake-U processors in volumes this year, which is the company’s typical way of ramping up a new node. When it comes to their larger Ice Lake-SP server parts, Intel expects to launch those 10 nm Xeon products in 2020. The company says that its Ice Lake-SP CPUs will be available in less than 12 months after its Ice Lake-U products hit the market. In fact, Intel has even advised investors to expect 10 nm Xeons to arrive “rather sooner than later” in 2020, which would imply something earlier than Q4'2020.
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