In its earnings call, Intel said that its 10nm transistors will be delayed by about six months, because the transition period for process nodes has grown from the usual two years to two and a half years for the past two generations (14nm and 10nm).
Intel initially promised that the production of its 14nm Broadwell chips would start in late 2013, but they only technically appeared in late 2014, with most new devices adopting the 14nm chips in the first half of 2015. Intel previously thought that the 10nm Cannonlake chips would be available late 2016 or early 2017, but now the company admitted that we shouldn't expect it until the second half of 2017.
Intel's CEO, Brian M. Krzanich, said that "the last two technology transitions have signaled that our cadence today is closer to 2.5 years than two."
Therefore, if broad availability for 14nm chips arrived in early 2015, then we should see 10nm chips late 2017, and 7nm chips from Intel in the first half of 2020.
Intel's announcement about its process delays came days after IBM said it has a working chip prototype built on a 7nm process technology. IBM's announcement could be a sign that the company along with its partners, Samsung and Global Foundries, is ahead of Intel in making 7nm chips viable.
IBM also said that it has used EUV lithography to create the 7nm prototype chip, while last year Intel was still counting on non-EUV/multi-patterning for its 7nm process. All of this means that IBM and its partners may finally beat Intel to a process technology generation, something that hasn't happened in decades.
TSMC's leaked process roadmapIntel may still win the race to 10nm, but the company expects its 10nm chips to appear in the second half of 2017, which is around the same time TSMC wants to ship 10nm chips for Apple (with silicon sampling starting about a year earlier). This means that either Intel may lose the 10nm race to TSMC, or if it does win, it won't be by a very wide margin.
In the earnings call, Intel announced that it will essentially give up on its tick-tock strategy, which has been disrupted by the latest delays, and will instead launch not two, but three product generations in the two and a half year time frame.
With the tick-tock strategy, the company would have launched the Skylake chips this year, and then about a year later it would have launched the Cannonlake generation. However, it will now introduce another generation in between them, called Kaby Lake, which will essentially be Skylake with some performance improvements. The chip will also be built on 14nm, just like Skylake, and is expected to arrive in the second half of 2016, or about a year after Skylake.