Just a few days ago, Eurocom, a vendor of gaming laptops that use higher-performance desktop-oriented processors, revealed that Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) is planning to launch a gaming-oriented chip with eight cores in the second half of 2018.
At the time, I was certain that this chip was based on the company's Ice Lake architecture and built using the company's upcoming 10nm+ technology. However, new findings from generally reliable website BenchLife.info appear to indicate that this upcoming eight-core gaming chip is, in fact, based on the company's Coffee Lake architecture and will be built on Intel's 14nm++ technology.
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This seemed quite plausible when it was published, and considering a new report from DigiTimes indicating that Intel's first 10-nanometer product, known as Cannon Lake, has been delayed to the end of 2018, it now seems the only sensible option.
Putting it all together
The Cannon Lake chip, which continues to be delayed, should be far less complex than the potential eight-core gaming chip in question.
The Cannon Lake chip is expected to include just two processor cores, and -- because it is a product aimed at low-power applications -- those processor cores should run at substantially lower frequencies than those of the eight-core gaming chip.
If Intel is having such a hard time building a small, low-power chip using its 10-nanometer technology, then the odds that it'll be able to crank out a larger, more complex, and ultra-high-performance eight-core chip on a similar technology in the same time frame are vanishingly small.
There are some additional clues, too. Per a leaked Intel slide, Intel is planning to launch its Z390 chipset platform (internally referred to as "Cannon Lake PCH") in the second half of 2018. Moreover, the slide indicates that Intel plans to be selling its Coffee Lake-S processor family in the second half of 2018 as well.
On top of that, Intel's code name decoder page was recently updated to indicate that the company plans to launch a new chipset referred to as Ice Lake PCH-H alongside the Ice Lake-S desktop processors.
Intel likes to pair new PCH chips with new generations of processors, as the additional features in new PCH chips ultimately enhance the value proposition of systems based on the new processors.
So I think what's going on here is clear: Intel will launch the six-core Coffee Lake desktop processors alongside the Z370 chipset in October, and then when it launches the Z390 chipset in the second half of 2018, it'll roll out new eight-core Coffee Lake-based processors alongside it.
Better than nothing
Obviously, it's not ideal that Intel is having the issues that it's having with its 10-nanometer technology, but at the very least it seems that the company was honest enough with itself (even as it keeps the story it presents to investors relatively vague) to build yet another product using its 14nm++ technology to enable an annual cadence of innovation in the enthusiast-gaming portion of its portfolio of desktop processors.
Kudos to Intel's product teams for doing all they can to work around the mess that its technology and manufacturing group has created.
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