Intel Says 10nm Destkop Processors In The Works, Will Be Arriving in 2020 [Updated]

Hassan Mujtaba
A photo released Oct. 8, 2018, shows a 9th Gen Intel Core processor packages. The processor family is optimized for gaming, content creation and productivity. (Source: Intel Corporation)

Update: ITWorldCanada has updated their story with an official statement from Intel:

“We continue to make great progress on 10nm and our roadmap of 10nm products will include desktop. However, we have not yet announced specific timing for desktop products”

It's been a month of confusion regarding Intel's 10nm desktop plans. Earlier it was reported that Intel would be skipping 10nm entirely on the desktop front which Intel later refuted and revealed that they definitely have plans for 10nm on desktop. Now, a new statement has emerged from IT World Canada who were told by Intel's Canada Country Manager, Denis Gaudreault, that 10nm processors for desktop would be here early next year.

Intel Says 10nm Desktop CPUs Will Be Arriving in Early 2020, Already In The Works

According to Intel's Country Manager, the first 10nm desktop processors will be arriving in 2020. The manager went on to state they will be arriving early next year which is the confusing part & there are reasons as to why it is so.

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For starters, Intel's 14nm desktop roadmap showed Intel offering Comet Lake in 2020 and Rocket Lake in 2021 before moving to a sub-14nm process node in 2022. This was validated in several of the leaked slides over the course of months, however, when Hardwareluxx reported on their insider info that Intel would be entirely skipping 10nm desktop plans in favor on 7nm (2022), Intel was quick to refute the claim and stated that their current roadmap for 10nm products includes the desktop platform as well. Following is what Intel said:

We continue to make great progress on 10nm, and our current roadmap of 10nm products includes desktop.

Now a few weeks later, Intel's country manager has also stated that their 10nm desktop chips are in the works and they'll be arriving early next year. Now what is interesting is that Intel has yet to reveal what would be the scale for their 10nm desktop plans. We already know that Intel has a fully fledged 14nm desktop lineup known as Comet Lake-S arriving next year that will include SKUs offering up to 10 cores and 20 threads. Having 10nm desktop processors launch the same year does not make a whole lot of sense.

“As I said this morning, we learned of the 10th-gen for mobile [processors], which is based on 10nm. So early next year, that’s where the desktop version of that will come.”

-Intel Canada Country Manger (Denis Gaudreault) via IT World Canada

Again, it's all about the scale of the 10nm desktop launch. Intel hasn't clarified whether 10nm CPUs for desktop would be available on mainstream or high-end desktop fronts. Traditionally, Intel has had both HEDT and mainstream lineups coexist on the same node. Their current mainstream and HEDT parts are based on a refined 14nm++ node. However, come next-generation, at least one of those lines has the possibility to receive the 10nm treatment.

So here are some of the possibilities that I believe might happen. Intel will release both 14nm and 10nm desktop processors for the mainstream market next year, but while the 14nm products aim for the more high-performance (enthusiast) segment with 6, 8, 10 core SKUs, the 10nm products might take up the lower-end quad-core segments. We also know that next year, Intel will have 10nm Ice Lake on servers and those may likely be coming to the HEDT lineup too. But then, we also have two separate Xeon lineups, 14nm Cooper Lake which is higher-clock speed optimized and 10nm Ice Lake which is more architectural optimized with an advanced feature set. Here, Intel may do another Xeon W-3175X product, trying to compete against AMD's 3rd Gen Threadripper with up to 38 cores and 76 threads as reported in a recent leak.

The last one is something that may happen in the NUC segment. Intel's NUC is also referred to in the desktop segment and Intel may launch a limited 10nm NUC line based on the new Ice Lake or Tiger Lake CPUs. We also know that 10nm Tiger Lake NUCs are indeed in the works and planned for launch in 2021. But, as you can note from all this speculation, 10nm desktop processors in 2020 don't seem like a huge launch and would be limited in terms of supply. Intel's 10nm NUCs based on the Cannonlake architecture have already been canned so it's only Ice Lake or Tiger Lake to take on the new NUCs.

“Right now we’re building 10 nanometer so the ramp is going very well. We’re happy with the yield we’re having. We’re going full speed with that. We have two fabs and we’re looking to turn on third one,” 

Intel also stated that 10nm ramp is going smoothly and they are planning to add a third fab to 10nm production. Intel has a lot of products, including their new Xe GPUs which will be based upon 10nm process node. For desktops, 10nm seems to be coming for sure but we aren't sure in what shape and size it would land.

What do you think are Intel's plan for 10nm desktop processors?
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