Despite all the bad news from AMD thus far, it looks like they’ll be getting a break for next year. According to a rumour, Intel is delaying their Cannonlake CPUs from late 2017/early 2017 to at least the second half of 2017. Given AMD’s launch of their new Zen CPUs will take place around the original Cannonlake launch date, AMD has a chance to make their 14nm offerings before Intel launches the 10nm Cannonlake.
After Sky Lake which launched a few months ago, Intel is expected to follow up with a 14nm refresh named Kaby Lake refresh in early/mid-2016. That was expected to be followed up by the 10nm refresh Cannonlake in late 2016/early 2017. With Cannonlake now pushed back, it pretty much confirms that Intel’s Tick-Tock will have to move to at least 1.5 years and likely closer to 2. Kaby Lake is set to target sales up to week 9/18 of 2017 meaning Cannonlake will come sometime afterwards.
With 10nm pushed back, AMD has the opportunity to launch their own 14nm Zen CPUs in late 2016 against Intel’s 14nm Kaby Lake. While the process nodes are different, on marketing, this is a win and likely a better showing in terms of power and die efficiency. It also means that AMD can target the holiday season relatively unaffected by a new Intel lineup. The delay for Cannonlake also means the Sky Lake architecture successor will be pushed back as well, giving AMD more time to catch up with Zen as Kaby Lake and Cannonlake are not expected to improve IPC too much.
A delay to Cannonlake also means that the rumoured core count increase for the mainstream platform won’t be out yet, giving AMD an opportunity to compete on core counts as well if their IPC falls short of Kaby Lake. Overall though, it drives home that fact that even with their massive resources, Intel is still hitting a wall with newer silicon processes and it’s time to start looking for a successor.
Thank you Benchlife for providing us with this information
Intel has long limited the mainstream platform to 4 physical cores, with 8 threads due only to Hyper-Threading. This has held true for the longest time, with power users who wanted more cores making the jump to LGA 1366 and 2011. According to an Intel CPU engineer profile, Intel will start offering more cores starting with Cannonlake in 2017. Instead of a jump to 6 cores, the alleged Cannonlake SoC will feature up to 8 cores.
While some may say that this is a server processor, that is unlikely due to the SoC designation. That usually points to a mobile environment, with an attached GPU and other dedicated hardware on the same chip. The biggest question is whether or not this core-count increase is going towards mobile devices or the higher performance desktop platform. As we all know, the mobile world ahs become obsessed with core counts so a low power extreme multi-core CPU may be there for marketing. That segment would be better served though by a 10nm shrink of Goldmont from the Atom lineup which should still exist in 2017.
One of the reasons Intel may be moving to more cores on the mainstream platform in 2017, is that software is slowly starting to feed 4 cores quite well. Even with Hyper-Threading, 4 cores may simply not cut it. By pushing more cores to mainstream users, Intel is also pushing software developers who have generally been loath to make their software more-multithreaded. Another reason is that by 10nm, Intel will have enough space and cost savings to allow for 6 and even 8 cores to be cheap enough to produce. 10nm will be 4 times smaller than the 32nm process, allowing for many more chips per wafer.
Finally, 2017 is also the year that AMD will launch their Zen architecture. Set to provide a 40% IPC over current Excavator chips, the new lineup is set to arrive on a 1x nm process and feature up to 8/16 cores + SMT (AMD’s Hyper-Threading) on the mainstream platform.It may be that Intel perceives Zen may be a threat to their mainstream platform and is taking proper precautions. Whatever the reason, 2017 looks to be a really interesting year for CPUs, with major product introductions from both camps.