Intel goes foundry for 7nm due to yield issues

July 27, 2020 //By Peter Clarke
Intel goes foundry for 7nm due to yield issues
Intel CEO Bob Swan has said that the debut of the company's own 7nm manufacturing process has been delayed by a further 6 months due to yield issues.

Swan was speaking to financial analysts on a conference call to discuss the company's 2Q20 financial results and frequently said that the company could opt to use foundry manufacturing to maintain a flow of chip products.

Introduction of Intel's 7nm process is running a whole year behind an internal timetable and this means that the first product on the process won't appear until late 2022 or early 2023, Swan said.

"We have identified a defect mode in our 7-nanometer process that resulted in yield degradation. We’ve root-caused the issue and believe there are no fundamental roadblocks, but we have also invested in contingency plans to hedge against further schedule uncertainty." The contingency plan is primarily going to external foundries.

Swan also admitted that Intel's discrete GPU called Ponte Vecchio, originally slated to appear on Intel's 7nm process in 2021, would now appear late in 2021 or early 2022 and be made using external and internal manufacturing process technologies and advanced packaging in a chiplet-based component.

Intel's transition to a 10nm manufacturing was dogged with delays and now 7nm appears to be suffering from the same plight. Intel did say that 10nm production is now ramping faster than expected.

Nonetheless foundry Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. is on 7nm and beginning 5nm production and providing an advantage over Intel to the companies that use them; AMD, Nvidia and so on. Intel's inability to keep up with manufacturing's leading-edge has prompted Apple to turn to the ARM architecture and TSMC for manufacturing of its lap top computer processors (see More details emerge of Apple's eviction of Intel processors from PCs ).

Nonetheless Intel posted an excellent second quarter mainly on the strength of data center demand, to meet stay-at-home, work-at-home usage driven by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Intel had 2Q20 revenues of $19.7 billion, up 20 percent year-on-year. The company made net income of $5.1 billion up 22 percent on a year previously.


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