Intel delays its 7nm chips again, now expected in 2022 or 2023


Intel has announced that it’s pushing back the release of its 7-nanometer chips until late 2022 or early 2023 after it identified an issue that resulted in “yield degradation.”

In an earnings call on Tuesday, outgoing Intel CEO Bob Swan said the chipmaker has discovered a “defect mode” in its 7nm production process. That defect is causing low yield rates in its manufacturing, PC Mag reports.

“The company’s 7nm-based CPU product timing is shifting approximately six months relative to prior expectations,” Intel said in a statement. “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.”

Intel says it’s confident that it can fix the problem and added that it believes there are “no fundamental roadblocks.” The company now expects to see initial shipments of its first 7nm chip — a CPU for a client — in late 2022 or early 2023.

The new delay echoes manufacturing problems that the company has faced many times in the past. Recently, in 2019, Intel finally got its 10-nanometer production process on track after three years of delays. The new delay also represents the second time that Intel’s 7nm production has been snarled.

Those production issues have caused Intel to lose ground to competitors like AMD and Apple, the latter of which is moving away from Intel-made chips to its own Apple Silicon. In December, Daniel Loeb, CEO of hedge fund Third Point, urged the company to explore strategic options in the face of declining chip supremacy.

Intel CEO Bob Swan is also set to step down from his role on Feb. 15, to be replaced by VMWare CEO Pat Gelsinger. Ahead of taking the role, Gelsinger has reportedly told employees that Intel should strive to make chips better than “a lifestyle company in Cupertino.”

In early January 2021, Intel was reportedly considering outsourcing some of its chip manufacturing to Apple supplier Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company. At the time, Intel was said to be holding out on the hope that its own production capabilities improved.

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