Intel Blames Broadwell Delay On Manufacturing Glitch

Intel said it has fixed a ‘defect density issue’, but problem will push Broadwell’s launch back by a quarter

Intel has confirmed it will delay its next-generation desktop chip, Broadwell, by a quarter due to a “defect density issue” and now plans to begin production in the first quart of 2014.

CEO Brian Krzanich confirmed the delay in a third quarter earnings conference call, but said the problem has now been fixed and attributed it to the growing complexity of manufacturing chips using ever-greater circuit densities.

“This happens sometimes in development phases like this,” he said. “That’s why we moved it a quarter.”

Process shrink

Broadwell is based on the same architecture as the current “Haswell” line of Core processors, but uses a more advanced manufacturing process, shrinking the dimensions of the chip’s circuits from 22 nanometres (nm) to 14nm. This “process shrink” is expected to contribute to an up to 30 percent gain in power efficiency, along with a new GPU that is expected to boost performance by 40 percent over Haswell.

Chips, processors © 2121fisher Shutterstock 2012Krzanich said the delay won’t affect Broadwell’s successor, “Skylake”, since that chip is to be based on a new architecture, although it has been pointed out that this means Broadwell will be on the market for a shorter period than planned before Skylake replaces it.

Intel’s other planned 14nm chips will also be unaffected. The company is planning a 2014 release for a 14nm Atom mobile chip called “Airmont”, intended to compete with ARM-based chips in the market for smartphones and tablets.

The delay could affect the release date of Broadwell-based PC products, but Intel remains significantly ahead of its competitors with regard to manufacturing technology, with TSMC and GlobalFoundries (the former manufacturing arm of AMD) still working to implement their 20nm processes.

Broadwell is significantly smaller then Haswell, according to Intel, meaning it could be used in products such as tablets without requiring a fan, while it is also designed to allow users to upgrade from Haswell to Broadwell in some products.

“Broadwell and Haswell are pin compatible, so for the most part this will slide into existing systems,” said Krzanich.

HP has already announced Haswell-powered ultrabooks and notebooks, while Apple’s newest iMacs, announced in September, also use the chip.

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