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Intel's 14nm 8th Gen Core Chips Will Arrive Earlier Than Expected

By Victor Thomson , Feb 14, 2017 02:03 AM EST
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Intel has announced that its 8th gen Core 14 nm chips will be launched on the market in the second half of 2017. (Photo : Fitness Techie / YouTube)

Intel will release its 8th-generation Core chips in the second half of 2017. This is revealed by the company this past week during its annual Investors Day.

Intel To Release Its 8th-Generation Core Chips Earlier Than Expected

According to Windows Central, the chips will be manufactured based on an improved 14 nm process and will carry the Coffee Lake technology. Tech experts expect that the upcoming Intel processors will achieve an overall performance increase of 15 percent. The fact that the Coffee Lake chips will still be based on the same 14 nm technology as Intel's previous generation processors, including Broadwell, Skylake, and Kaby Lake, is a bit surprising.

According to Extreme Tech, chip maker Intel announced last year that it would abandon the Tick-Tock model used for nearly a decade and replace it with a new model called Process, Architecture, Optimization (PAO). The reason for changing a two-step process with a three-step system is to allow the company afford more opportunity to get maximum gains out of each current node, as well as give it some extra time to roll out its next-generation process nodes. However, the new information suggests that Intel may have a product plan that tears up PAO (or at least complicates it) going forward.

Reasons Behind Intel's Decision

Because Intel's upcoming 8th generation Core processors will use14 nm++ that is just an enhanced variant of 14 nm technology yet again, it can't be expected that the new generation Core processors will provide huge leaps in performance. At first glance, this may appear as a bad strategy for the giant chip maker. Rival AMD will launch its Ryzen chip in the near future and some tech experts argue that, rather than the third iteration on 14 nm, the best strategy for Intel would be to make a significant leap forward with a strong 10 nm chip.

One possible explanation for Intel's decision is that with any given node shrink, the advantages are less and less potent. It becomes more difficult and it can take longer for a chip maker to deliver meaningful advantages. However, unlike its competitors TSMC, Samsung and GlobalFoundries, Intel is still pursuing full node shrinks.

Intel's rival chip makers won't offer equivalent feature sizes and gate lengths to Intel until they can deploy their 10 nm nodes. This is why, despite still using a 14 nm process, Intel can still plausibly claim to be ahead of process technology. At the time when the company launched its 14 nm process, it pushed that technology into ultra-mobile parts first, in order to compete with ARM-based on an improvement of low-power clock speeds and reduction in power consumption.

The chip-making technology may be arriving at a point where it makes more sense to improve process nodes and architecture over several generations and keep older nodes around than it does to aggressively transition to each new node. This seems to be the case for Intel already deploying 14 nm across three families of processors and preparing to do it again for a fourth with the desktop Cannon Lake chips. And due to this decision, rather than the first half of 2018 as previously been reported, the company's 8th-gen chips on 14 nm are now expected in the second half of 2017.

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