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Intel Delays Mass Production of 10 nm CPUs to 2019

Intel Delays Mass Production of 10 nm CPUs to 2019

Intel on Thursday announced that it would delay mass production of its 10 nm processors from 2018 to 2019 due to yield issues. The company has claimed to be shipping some of its 10 nm chips in small volumes right now, but due to cost reasons the firm does not intend to initiate their high-volume manufacturing (HVM) at this time. Intel executives also stated that they are confident of their product roadmap and intend to launch Whiskey Lake and Cascade Lake products later this year.

Multipatterning Issues

Brian Krzanich, CEO of Intel, stated during a conference call with financial analysts:

“We are shipping [10-nm chips] in low volume and yields are improving, but the rate of improvement is slower than we anticipated. As a result, volume production is moving from the second half of 2018 into 2019. We understand the yield issues and have defined improvements for them, but they will take time to implement and qualify.”

Intel blames a very high transistor density and consequent heavy use of multipatterning for low yields. Brian Krzanich has said that in certain cases the company needs to use quad (4x), penta (5x), or hexa (6x) patterning for select features as they need to expose the wafer up to six times to “draw” one feature. This not only lengthens Intel’s manufacturing cycle (which by definition rises costs) and the number of masks it uses, but also has an effect on yields.

Intel’s 10 nm fabrication technology relies solely on deep ultraviolet (DUV) lithography with lasers operating on a 193 nm wavelength at this time. The company’s 7 nm manufacturing process will use extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography with laser wavelength of 13.5 nm for select layers, eliminating use of extreme multipatterning for certain metal layers. As it appears, right now Intel executives do not consider EUV technology ready for prime time in 2019, so the company’s engineers have to polish off the last DUV-only process (again) rather than jump straight to 7 nm.

10 nm Ramp in 2019

Intel does not elaborate whether it intends to ship (in volume) its 10 nm CPUs in the first half or the second half of 2019, but only says that the company’s engineers know the source of the yield problems and are working hard to fix them. As a result, it is pretty safe to assume that the actual ramp of Intel’s 10 nm production will begin towards the second half of next year.

“We are going to start that ramp as soon as we think the yields are in line, so I said 2019,” Mr. Krzanich noted. “We did not say first or second half, but we will do it as quickly as we can, based on the yield.”

In a bid to stay competitive before its 10-nm CPUs ship in the H2 2019 – H1 2020 (production ramp takes time, bigger processors will launch later than smaller parts), Intel plans to release another generation of products made using its 14 nm process tech. This generation of chips includes Whiskey Lake products for client PCs and Cascade Lake for the datacenter, and both are scheduled for release later this year.

Questions Remain: 10 nm Slip from 2016

Intel’s 10 nm manufacturing process has a long history of delays and without any doubts this transition has been the hardest in the company’s history. Let’s do a quick recap.

  Intel
First Production
1999 180 nm
2001 130 nm
2003 90 nm
2005 65 nm
2007 45 nm
2009 32 nm
2011 22 nm
2014 14 nm
2016 10 nm
2017 10 nm
2018 10 nm?
2019 10 nm!

Intel originally planned to commence shipments of its first processors made using their 10 nm fabrication technology in the second half of 2016. The first rumors about Intel’s problems with the tech started to spread in early 2015 as the company delayed the installation of equipment needed for its 10 nm manufacturing process. Then, in July 2015, the chip giant confirmed intentions to postpone 10 nm HVM from H2 2016 to H2 2017 due to difficulties incurred by multipatterning. Instead, the company promised to release its Kaby Lake products with enhancements and made using a refined 14 nm process (known as 14+ later).

Over the course of 2016 and 2017 we learned that Intel was prepping Cannon Lake (mobile, entry-level desktops), Ice Lake (higher-end client PCs, servers), and Tiger Lake chips on their 10 nm node. We also heard about various problems that Intel faced with its 10 nm technology, but the company refuses to comment on them. The chipmaker did demonstrate a system running a mobile Cannon Lake SoC at CES 2017, with a promise to release this processors late that year. Somewhere along the line, both Ice Lake and Tiger Lake slipped to 2018, which was partly confirmed by the launch of the Coffee Lake CPU made using a revamped 14 nm (14++) in late 2017.

Intel officially introduced the 10 nm fabrication process at IEDM 2017 and said it was on track to start shipments of CNL CPUs in early 2018. In January this year Intel confirmed that they had started to ship Cannon Lake processors in small volumes, but never elaborated. We have since learned that these were CNL-U parts in uninspiring 2+2 and CNL 2+0 configurations, however so far Intel has refused to state who the customer is or where anyone can buy them, despite repeated requests for this information.

Being a very large company, Intel has a multifaceted strategy that spans across product lines and generations. Right now, Intel is battling with yield issues that plague its Cannon Lake product family and the first-gen 10 nm manufacturing process. There are other 10 nm products in the pipeline that are to be made using a refined fabrication technology (such as 10+, 10++). It is pretty obvious that Intel will learn how to improve its 10 nm yields with the CNL lineup, but what remains to be seen is how significantly the delays of this product family affect launch schedules of its successors. Despite Intel’s statements, there is outside discussion that Intel could decide to switch right to 7 nm, bypassing 10 nm altogether.

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Sources: Intel, SeekingAlpha

Bykski Announces Real-Time Temperature Monitoring Fittings for Watercooling

Bykski Announces Real-Time Temperature Monitoring Fittings for Watercooling

Bykski has unveiled two new real-time temperature sensor monitors, both featuring LCD displays capable of displaying real-time temperature information on its screen to the users. The Bykski B-TME-SE-AL and B-VGA-SC-AL both are added inline to your water cooling loop to allow for instant monitoring of the water loop fluid temperature right from its screen. Aside from temperature monitoring, it can add a unique touch to a user’s loop. Typically temperature readings are handled by software or much larger devices that fit in the 5 1/4″ bays. 

 

The B-TME-SE-AL is an inline device designed for use on the main loop tubing and features an OLED display showing real-time temperature information. It is able to get this information through a thermistor in the inlet screw which reads the liquids current temperature when passing through the device. Users are able to present the information in a curve display or progress bar on the screen. The TME is constructed of aircraft-grade aluminum and is available in black and grey colors with a smooth finish. 

The B-VGA-SC-AL, on the other hand, is intended for use with VGA blocks and mounts to the VGA block itself. Like the TME, the VGA version works the same way with an integrated thermistor in the inlet screw reading temperatures. Like the TME, a curve display or progress bar are also options on its OLED screen. The VGA is made out of aluminum + acrylic and comes in two colors, black and grey, which should blend in with many VGA blocks on the market.

Both devices use a standard G ¼” threads so users are able to connect their own fittings and integrate the temperature monitors in the loop. These are made out of aluminum and we are unsure if there is a nickel coating. Be aware of potentially mixing metals inside your loop. Bykski stands by these two products with 3-year warranty. 

Bykski B-TME-SE-AL and B-VGA-SC-AL
  B-TME-SE-AL B-VGA-CD-AL
Color Black / Grey
Material Aluminum Aluminum + Acrylic
Process Anodized
Pattern Smooth
Thread Size G 1/4″
Annex No
Warranty 3 Years

Both are available now with the B-VGA-SC-AL block found at AliExpress.com for $35.95 and the B-TME-SE-AL found at sgshop.com for $47.27. I have to admit I would have expected these to cost more, regardless if they are a bit limited in functionality (temps only). Availability of the devices appear limited to the above sites overseas as a cursory search to find these anywhere local for the US/EU contingent turned up without results. That said, both websites above do ship internationally. 

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Intel Announces Q1 FY 2018 Results: Another Record

Intel Announces Q1 FY 2018 Results: Another Record

This afternoon, Intel announced their earnings for the first quarter of their 2018 fiscal year, and once again, the company has set new records, with revenue for the quarter of $16.1 billion, up 9% from a year ago. Intel is always a company built on strong margins, and although they were down 1.3% from last year, at 60.6% they are still quite strong. Operating income was up 23% to $4.5 billion, and net income was up 50% to $4.5 billion, which is the same as their operating income because they had gains on equity of $643 million, and they paid only 11.1% in taxes for the quarter. Earnings per share came in at $0.93, up 53%.

With numbers like that, it shouldn’t be a surprise that all of Intel’s business units improved their revenue year-over-year, including the Client Computing Group, which had revenues of $8.2 billion for the quarter, which was up 3%. It’s not a huge gain, but in a shrinking PC market, and stronger competition, they were able to scratch out some growth.

Intel Q1 2018 Financial Results (GAAP)
  Q1’2018 Q4’2017 Q1’2017
Revenue $16.1B $17.1B $14.8B
Operating Income $4.5B $5.4B $4.5B
Net Income $4.5B -$0.7B $3.0B
Gross Margin 60.6% 63.1% 61.9%
Client Computing Group Revenue $9.0B -8.9% +3%
Data Center Group Revenue $5.2B -4.4% +24%
Internet of Things Revenue $840M +3.5% +17%
Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group $1B +12.5% +20%
Programmable Solutions Group $498M -12.3% +17%

Ryan’s going to go more into this in another piece, but Intel also made it official that they are not going to have any volume shipments of 10 nm until 2019. Intel is currently shipping low-volume on 10 nm, but continued struggles in getting the new process up to speed mean that any 10 nm products that were in the works are now going to be delayed again. Intel is going to continue to improve their 14 nm node for this year.

Intel classifies the Client Computing Group as “PC-Centric” and you can see that it’s still the bread and butter of their revenue, but it’s also been stagnant for a while. They classify all of their other business as “Data-Centric” which includes the Data Center Group, IoT group, Non-Volatile Storage, Programable Solutions Group. This Data-Centric aspect is why Intel is growing again.

The Data Center Group had revenues of $5.2 billion, which is up 24% year-over-year. As we saw in AMD’s earnings, EPYC hasn’t really made an impact on their earnings yet, but Intel continues to dominate in this segment.

IoT is closing in on the billion-dollar revenue for a quarter, with growth of 17% year-over-year to $840 million. Although Intel missed out on mobile, IoT has the potential to quickly surpass mobile, and they’ve committed to this space early, and are seeing strong growth.

Non-Volatile Memory Solutions, which is Intel’s NAND flash and Optane group, had revenues of $1.0 billion for the quarter, which is up 20% year-over-year. They’ve focused a lot on the datacenter with their solutions, and there is higher margins there, so it’s not a surprise to see them focus in on that market.

Programmable Solutions had revenues of $498 million for the quarter, up 17% year-over-year. This is another strong growth segment for Intel, and we’ve seen a lot of the cloud infrastructure trying to find ways to offload work onto FPGAs in an attempt for more efficient workloads.

Thanks to the strong start, Intel has already raised their full-year expectations to $67.5 billion, which is an increase of $2.5 billion over their last forecast. Intel has traditionally led with their fabs, so it’s interesting to see them growing with such vigour when their fabs advances are completely stalled, but such is the growth of cloud computing.

Source: Intel Investor Relations

Intel Outs Z390 & X399 PCHs for Cannon Lake & Coffee Lake CPUs

Intel Outs Z390 & X399 PCHs for Cannon Lake & Coffee Lake CPUs

Intel this week released its new Rapid Storage Technologies drivers, and thanks to their associated release notes, Intel has indirectly confirmed their upcoming Z390 and X399 PCHs. The drivers’ release notes also shed some light on Intel’s 9th Generation Core processors as well as features of Intel’s future HEDT platform.

Intel’s new and upcoming platforms for desktops and workstations rely on the company’s Cannon Point-H (CNP-H) PCH silicon in various configurations and with various differentiators, according to release notes for the Intel RST version 16.0 driver. The CNP-H chip itself is already in high volume production and is sold to PC makers under the CM246, HM370, QM370, H370, H310, Q370, and B360 SKUs. Said chipsets power high-performance laptops based on mobile Coffee Lake processors as well as new motherboards for consumer and corporate desktops. Going forward, Intel’s Cannon Point-H PCH will also be used for various desktops (under the Z390, H310, H370, Q370, Q360, B360 model numbers), workstations (under the C246 model number), and high-end desktops (under the X399 SKU).

It is noteworthy that the Intel X399 PCH will be validated only with the Skylake-X CPUs (at least initially), leaving the unusual Kaby Lake-X family notably absent. It remains to be seen whether Intel plans to rebrand Skylake-X processors for the X399 platform in a bid to emphasize possible new features of the platform, but typically the company does not do anything like this in the HEDT segment.

Intel’s upcoming low-power laptop platforms running the 9th Generation Core “Cannon Lake-U” SoCs will use a different PCH known as the Cannon Point-LP. The document does not say anything about usage of non-Cannon Lake silicon in the 9th Gen Core family for low-power notebooks, so it looks like the said platforms will rely solely on Intel’s CPUs made using its 10 nm process technology. At the same time, it is also noteworthy that Intel does not list any Cannon Lake-Y SoCs in the release notes, so the destiny of such products remains unknown.

Intel’s 300-Series and 240-Series PCHs
Chipset SKU Silicon Supported CPUs Application
Z390 Cannon Point-H
CNP-H
Cannon Lake
Coffee Lake-S
Enthusiast Desktops
H370 Desktops
H310
Q370
Q360
B360
C246 Workstations
CM246 Cannon Lake
Coffee Lake-H
Mobile Workstations
QM370 High-End Laptops
HM370
X399 Skylake-X High-End Desktops
9th Gen Core Platform I/O Controller Cannon Point-LP
CNP-LP
Cannon Point-U Low-Power Laptops

Since release notes for the drivers are not meant to announce precise product specifications, it is impossible to say what exactly to expect from the Z390 or the X399 PCHs. Meanwhile, general specs of the Q370, H370 SKUs and other PCHs based on the CNP-H silicon are well known, so the base functionality of the upcoming chipsets is more or less obvious

Intel’s 300-series PCH
  Z370 H370 Q370 B360 H310
Launch Oct ’17 Apr ’18 Apr ’18 Apr ’18 Apr ’18
Market Consumer
Consumer
Corporate

Corporate
Consumer
Corporate
Consumer
ME Firmware 11 12 12 12 12
HSIO Lanes 30 30 30 24 14
Total USB 14 14 14 12 10
Max USB 3.1 G2 4 6 4 0
Max USB 3.1 G1 10 10 8 6 4
SATA 6 Gbps 6 6 6 6 4
PCH PCIe 3.0 Lanes 24 20 24 12
PCH PCIe 2.0 Lanes 6
Max RST PCIe Storage 3 2 3 1 0
Supports Optane Y Y Y Y N
Integrated 802.11ac N Y Y Y Y
Intel Smart Sound Y Y Y Y N
Intel vPro N N Y N N
TDP 6 W 6 W 6 W 6 W 6 W

Intel does not comment on unreleased products, so we cannot get you any official information at this point.

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Philips Unveils 43-Inch 4K Gaming LCD with DisplayHDR 1000, DCI-P3, FreeSync

Philips Unveils 43-Inch 4K Gaming LCD with DisplayHDR 1000, DCI-P3, FreeSync

Philips has announced its new large gaming display that brings together an ultra-high-definition resolution panel, VESA’s DisplayHDR 1000 certification, and AMD’s FreeSync dynamic refresh rate technology. In addition to being the only ultra-large gaming monitor to support the aforementioned features (among those announced to date), the Philips 436M6VBPAB also supports USB Type-C docking, which is going to please users of laptops that feature only USB-C ports.

A Gaming Display with Quantum Dots, Ambiglow, and a Remote

The Philips 436M6VBPAB relies on a 43-inch 8-bit + FRC VA panel featuring a 3840×2160 resolution, 600 – 1000 nits brightness, a high contrast ratio (since it is a VA panel, we are probably talking about something like 2000:1 or better), a 4 ms response time, a 60 Hz optimum refresh rate, 178°/178° viewing angles, and so on. The backlighting is outfitted with a Quantum Dot-enhancement film that enables it to cover an above-average 97.6% of the DCI-P3 color gamut.

In addition to accurate colors and HDR support, the 436M6VBPAB supports Philips’ Ambiglow technology, which produces LED lighting effects to match ambient lighting with what is happening on the screen. This is not a programmable RGB lighting found on gaming displays from companies like ASUS, but it adds visual effects that are useful practically and bring additional immersion to games.

Speaking of gaming, it is noteworthy that the ultra-large monitor from Philips takes a page from AOC’s book and supports the so-called Low Input Lag mode that reduces input lag by bypassing “most of the display’s internal processing.” This is not particularly surprising since both AOC- and Philips-branded LCDs are made by TPV.

Moving on to connectivity of the 436M6VBPAB. The monitor has four display inputs: 1x DisplayPort 1.2, 1x Mini DisplayPort 1.2, 1x HDMI 2.0, and 1x USB Type-C that can be used both for display connectivity and as an upstream port for a USB 3.0 hub. The LCD supports Picture-in-Picture and Picture-by-Picture capabilities from two sources. As for audio, the display features a 3.5-mm audio input, 3.5-mm audio output as well as two built-in 7-W speakers with the DTS Sound badge.

Another important feature of the Philips 436M6VBPAB monitor is bundled remote controller that can be used to control the monitor as well as other devices connected using HDMI (e.g., media players, game consoles, etc.). The remote is going to be quite handy because the 43-incher can be used like a TV when connected to various media streamers or players (or even a TV tuner!). Now, a disadvantage of this size is that the 436M6VBPAB does not come with a stand that can regulate its height or tilt. To partly solve this, it does have VESA mounts.

FreeSync Meets HDR

The new monitor from Philips belongs to the brand’s Momentum lineup of LCDs aimed at gamers and multimedia enthusiasts. Given the target market, the key features of the Philips 436M6VBPAB besides its dimensions and Quantum Dot-enhanced backlighting are AMD’s FreeSync technology and VESA’s DisplayHDR 1000 badge, a rather odd combination considering the fact that FreeSync 2 is a technology that is supposed to bring HDR to gaming displays. There is an explanation to this combination.

AMD’s FreeSync 2 mandates monitors to support a number of features: they have to support the tech on the logical level (i.e., let games tone map directly to the native color space of a display), they have to cover at least 90% of the DCI-P3 color space, and they have to support a dynamic refresh rate with Low Framerate Compensation. In case of the 436M6VBPAB, the LCD supports a wide color gamut and a dynamic refresh, but not direct tone mapping and LFC, which is why it cannot get an appropriate AMD certification. In fact, it yet has to get a FreeSync certification, which is why Philips uses the term ‘Adaptive Sync for AMD GPUs’. Philips does not disclose dynamic refresh range of the monitor, but given its maximum refresh rate, we don’t expect the minimum refresh rate to be much below 45Hz.

Update 6:15 PM ET: Philips Australia has published official specifications of the 436M6VBPAB monitor on its website. The specs list 3840 × 2160 at 60 Hz as “optimum” resolution and refresh rate of the display. At the same time, the LCD supports a 23 – 80 Hz scanning frequency for DisplayPort and HDMI inputs, which looks like the FreeSync range. Considering that 80 Hz is an odd refresh rate, it is highly likely that the monitor overclocks itself from 60 Hz to 80 Hz in certain situations. In the meatime, since display supports a 23 – 80 Hz scanning frequency, it is more than enough for LFC.

Update 4/27: AMD confirmed on Friday that the Philips 436M6VBPAB display is FreeSync certified.

As for the DisplayHDR 1000 logo, the VESA’s highest HDR has a rather strict requirements for brightness (600 nits full-screen long duration minimum, 1000 nits full-screen flash minimum) and black levels. The VESA does not mandate local dimming for this standard, yet it does not believe that corner maximum limit of 0.05 nits and tunnel maximum limit of 0.1 nits are achievable without local dimming. That said, while the Philips 436M6VBPAB does not support FALD (full array local dimming), it does support some kind of local dimming and therefore should feature a good contrast ratio.

The Philips Momentum 43″ 4K HDR display with Ambiglow
  436M6VBPAB
Panel 43″ MVA
Native Resolution 3840 × 2160
Maximum Refresh Rate 60 Hz (normal)
80 Hz (overclocked)
Response Time 4 ms GtG
Brightness 720 cd/m² (typical)
1000 cd/m² (peak)
Contrast 4000:1
Backlighting LED with quantum dots
Viewing Angles 178°/178° horizontal/vertical
Aspect Ratio 16:9
Color Gamut 100% sRGB/BT.709
97.6% DCI-P3
HDR HDR10
DisplayHDR Tier 1000
Dynamic Refresh Rate Tech AMD FreeSync
23.976 – 80 Hz
Pixel Pitch 0.2479 mm²
Pixel Density 102 PPI
Inputs 1 × DisplayPort 1.2
1 × Mini DisplayPort 1.2
1 × HDMI 2.0
1 × USB Type-C
Audio 3.5 mm input/output
2 × 7 W DTS Sound speakers
USB Hub 2 × USB 3.0 Type-A connectors
1 × USB 3.0 Type-C input
VESA Mount 200 × 200 mm
MSRP Europe: €799
UK: £699
US: $799 without VAT (unconfirmed)

Pricing and Availability

Philips plans to start selling the 436M6VBPAB this May for €799/£699 in Europe. As production of the unit ramps up, its availability will get more widespread in June, but the manufacturer does not explicitly say when it plans to start its sales in the U.S.

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