Intel Starts Up 10nm Factory – Trial Production Will Begin This Quarter, 10nm Canonnonlake Processors On Track For 2H 2017

Usman Pirzada

Intel Corporation has finally started up their 10nm fabrication facility and the prototyping phase is expected to begin soon. The company will enter  trial production stage this quarter and the costs for doing so have been counted in the financial outlook for the third quarter 2016. The company has also confirmed that it has begun shipping Kaby Lake processors to customers - right on cue.

Cannonlake processors on track as Intel starts up 10nm factory

Intel may have killed off (or drastically modified depending on your choice of syntax) Moore's Law but the company still remains very much dedicated to beating physics and shrinking those pesky transistors that we can no longer live without. The company will be starting up the 10nm factory this quarter (the cost for which is included in the outlook for Q3 if you are curious enough to dig into the financials) and reaffirms that the 10nm Cannonlake processors are indeed on track. If the company's historic track record is anything to go by, the company should enter into trial production later this year and should be able to ramp up to volume production by the end of 1H 2017.

Intel's 14nm process entering mainstream market was delayed by about 6-9 months depending on your perspective, however, even with this relatively big delay, Intel managed to keep its node lead over other third party fabrication facilities like TSMC and Samsung. As we have already pointed out before, Intel's 14nm node is very clearly the best one out there - with no competition. These advantages include better gate length, pitches and SRAM scaling among other things.

Intel made it a point to mention that all these advantages and improvements will remain in affect for 10nm atleast. The scaling will remain the same while the density rises, and cost per transistor plummets. Intel has entered the sweet spot at the top of the line and now the only major problem remains beating physics every time.  At 7nm and below physics breaks down pretty quickly and quantum physics effects start becoming a serious problem.


To assuage fears, Intel claims that the rollout time to 10nm will be upto 50% faster than 14nm. The slides also show assorted materials and technologies that are currently being researched to be able to function as workable computer transistors. These include highly practical and existing tech such as EUV (Extreme Ultra Violet Lithography) to III-V wafers and even tech that has yet to leave the lab properly like nanotubes, nanowires and graphene. Naturally Intel has yet to choose its race horse in the fight after 7nm but this indicates that all of the technologies are being researched concurrently.

Kaby Lake has already started shipping

Intel has also confirmed that their Kaby Lake series of processors which constitute the last iteration of the tick-tock-tock schema for 14nm processors has already started shipping out to customers. Kaby Lake is the "Optimization" part of their Process Architecture Optimization strategy and means that it will be perfecting the 14nm process node, offering a mature build for their Kaby Lake processors.


Both desktop and mobility Kaby Lake processors will feature several SKUs. These include some key lineups such as Kaby Lake U, Kaby Lake Y, Kaby Lake H and Kaby Lake S chips. There could be more but so far we can only confirm these SKUs. The specifications for each respective SKU and the chips derived from these lines can be seen in a detailed table below.

Kaby Lake SKUsKaby Lake-UKaby Lake-UKaby Lake-UKaby Lake-YKaby Lake-Y Kaby Lake-HKaby Lake-SKaby Lake-SSkylake-C
SKU Configuration2+22+22+3e2+22+24+24+22+24+4e
CoresDual CoreDual CoreDual CoreDual CoreDual CoreQuad CoreQuad CoreDual CoreQuad Core
GPUGT2 GraphicsGT2 GraphicsGT3e Graphics
(64 -128 MB eDRAM)
GT2 GraphicsGT2 GraphicsGT2 GraphicsGT2 GraphicsGT2 GraphicsGT4e Graphics
(256 MB eDRAM)
PlatformLow Power Mobility FocusedLow Power Mobility FocusedLow Power Mobility FocusedLow Power Mobility FocusedLow Power Mobility FocusedPerformance Mobility FocusedDesktopDesktopDesktop
Release Time Frameweek 33-45 (2016)week 53 (2016)
week 12 (2017)
week 06-18 (2017)week 34-46 (2016)week 01-13 (2017)week 51 (2016)
week 10 (2017)
week 50 (2016)
week 09 (2017)
week 06-18 (2017)week 50 (2016)
week 09 (2017)
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