Intel isn’t having a good year. After months of losing market share to AMD, the company officially announced that it won’t be fabricating CPUs at a 7nm process until 2021. Meanwhile, AMD has had 7nm-based CPUs out on the market all year.
Originally Intel was reported to a 6-month delay. That changed to a late 2021-2022 consumer release during an earnings call. According to CEO Bob Swan, there are no significant blockers to the 7nm process; he stated, “There are no fundamental roadblocks”. Soon after that call Chief Engineering Officer Murthy Renduchintala was announced to be leaving the company. While it seems like a firing, Intel hasn’t stated that outright.
None of this is particularly surprising. AMD and TSMC have both out-innovated Intel. TSMC is currently fabricating 5nm chips, which AMD and others are paying for. While Intel’s current Comet Lake CPUs are pretty closely matched to AMD’s 3rd-generation Ryzen chips, AMD has managed to compete on cost, technology, and timing. Intel’s brute-strength chipsets are powerful, but are less efficient and more power-hungry.
What does this mean for us, the gamers? Good news, actually. Intel’s move to 10nm will keep AMD on its toes, and the 12-18 month head start gives the smaller company a ticking clock. As AMD works to deploy a new generation of GPUs, produce CPUs and GPUs for both Microsoft’s and Sony’s game consoles, and continue outperforming Intel…something will have to give. In the meantime AMD can enjoy Intel’s suffering, but we’ll have to wait and see how long that lasts. And how well AMD can take advantage of the situation.