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Intel: Yes, There Will be 10nm Desktop CPUs (Updated)

(Image credit: Intel)

Update 10/14/2019 8:00 PT: Intel confirmed to Tom's Hardware that its use of the "Desktop Products" in its statement means "Desktop CPUs," specifically. It's noteworthy that the statement could equate to NUC processors only, and numerous other possibilities abound (like 10nm CPUs for the HEDT market only), but Intel hasn't provided further clarity. 

Original Article: 

In what seemed like important news for desktop enthusiasts, a rumor came out today that Intel had canceled all plans for 10nm desktop processors, leaving a void until the company would introduce 7nm desktop processors in 2022. However, Intel has now officially denied the rumor, stating that it still has plans to bring chips with the 10nm process to the desktop.

The rumor was published on Monday by German site HardwareLUXX. The site reported that it had received information from “insider circles” with a reportedly proven track record. The source claimed that there would be no 10nm desktop CPUs from Intel – possibly because the 10nm process does not deliver the required frequency for a desktop part. Instead, the company would supposedly focus on 7nm for the desktop market. The source said the first 7nm desktop processors would come in 2022.

That suggests that after seven years of 14nm products on the desktop based on the Skylake architecture, Intel in one generation would move the desktop two nodes down, on what could be the fourth architecture the company has introduced after Skylake.

On first sight, the rumor appeared to have some merit. Ice Lake-U does have lower clock speeds than the 14nm parts like Whiskey Lake-U and Comet Lake-U. That would be especially detrimental to single-threaded performance on the desktop, although frequencies might still increase as Intel moves to 10nm++. Moreover, a roadmap leaked earlier this year revealed that Intel had indeed planned another 14nm generation on the desktop with Rocket Lake-S, after the upcoming Comet Lake-S processors with 10 cores.

On the other hand, the rumor went against a previous statement by Intel’s executive management. When asked at last year’s Architecture Day if Intel had plans to ever release a high-end desktop CPU on 10nm, chief architect Raja Koduri simply answered "Yes." So if Intel did have plans for such a product, today’s rumor would indicate that Intel had scrapped those plans.

Intel provided the following short statement in response to Tom's Hardware, refuting the rumor:

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

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

Intel

If Intel still has plans for 10nm desktop processors, they will likely succeed Rocket Lake-S, perhaps in late 2021. Now, it is likely the chips will be based on Alder Lake and its Golden Cove architecture, instead of the forthcoming Tiger Lake with Willow Cove. 

The 10nm++ process might help overcome some of the frequency issues, and provide a steep IPC (instructions per clock) bump from three generations worth of architecture improvements.

The only issue that remains is 10nm's sketchy maturity, as it might never reach the high yields that Intel is accustomed to with its other process nodes. However, competitive pressure might be a reason for it to soldier on, and at least in the data center, the company's Eagle Stream platform will not feature a 14nm counterpart like we see with Cooper Lake-SP in 2020 alongside Ice Lake-SP. 

That indicates Intel could be expecting 10nm to reach sufficient maturity in 2021 to accommodate a bigger ramp up in manufacturing.

  • Olle P
    So 7nm is going to be late as well...

    Relevant questions:
    1. Will there be 10nm desktop CPUs (from Intel)?
    Official answer: Yes!
    2. What type will those be?
    Speculation in the article: We don't know if it's NUC, HEDT and/or regular CPUs.
    3. When will they be available?
    My speculation: Way too late to meet the competition?
    Reply
  • GetSmart
    Here is an initial sign of Intel's (10nm) Jasper Lake, that could also qualify as desktop CPUs as well. The only other possibility are those 65W Intel Tiger Lake chips.
    Reply
  • McGaz
    Hmm. These time frames seem a bit too long to wait for my computer rebuild! I'll have to see how these 10 series perform.
    Reply
  • mitch074
    McGaz said:
    Hmm. These time frames seem a bit too long to wait for my computer rebuild! I'll have to see how these 10 series perform.
    Or maybe have a look at the competition? Or do you have a "Intel Inside" tattoo on your left buttock that prevents you from owning anything that isn't Intel-powered?
    Reply
  • McGaz
    mitch074 said:
    Or maybe have a look at the competition? Or do you have a "Intel Inside" tattoo on your left buttock that prevents you from owning anything that isn't Intel-powered?

    I waited for and watched the AMD Ryzen launch and it was good that they took a big step to catch up to Intel, but that's all they did. Intel's individual core speeds are still better (Better for gaming), but they managed to get more cores/threads.

    I would have bought then if they'd overtaken Intel's top chip but, despite the improvements in the Ryzen 9 chips, they're still not better than the 9900K at gaming and I don't create videos or anything that would require the extra cores.

    Since it was just a catch-up to a year old chip, I thought I'd see what happens next. Hoping for a smaller process on the chips would give (hopefully) a significant improvement, but 2021 is too long to wait, so "I'll have to see how these 10 series perform".

    That wasn't so hard was it?
    Reply
  • mitch074
    McGaz said:
    I waited for and watched the AMD Ryzen launch and it was good that they took a big step to catch up to Intel, but that's all they did. Intel's individual core speeds are still better (Better for gaming), but they managed to get more cores/threads.

    I would have bought then if they'd overtaken Intel's top chip but, despite the improvements in the Ryzen 9 chips, they're still not better than the 9900K at gaming and I don't create videos or anything that would require the extra cores.

    Since it was just a catch-up to a year old chip, I thought I'd see what happens next. Hoping for a smaller process on the chips would give (hopefully) a significant improvement, but 2021 is too long to wait, so "I'll have to see how these 10 series perform".

    That wasn't so hard was it?
    Thing is, even in gaming now Ryzen works the same or better than Intel - only the 9900 chips work better, and that's because they clock much higher. So, except if you can spend 550+ on the CPU alone, a chip like the 3600X wipes the floor with Intel's equivalent in games.
    And the benchmarks are out for the 10th generation Intel: it works marginally better and is quite cheaper, but clocks the same - which probably means price cuts on Ryzen soon.
    Reply
  • joeblowsmynose
    McGaz said:
    Intel's individual core speeds are still ... (Better for gaming)

    Ahhh ... you have a 2080ti, a 9900k and play at 1080p with a 244hz monitor? In that select scenario ... then yes. Have you ever tried to notice the difference between 230fps and 244fps? Is there a difference to your eyes? Between 144 and 244 maybe ... but not the difference in what the CPU makes.

    If those aren't the hardware and settings scenario you game with, then the GPU will be bottlenecked - not the CPU. So the CPU at that point makes no difference. I think it was Anand that had 4K cpu numbers and the R7 1800x was actually ahead of the 9900k in most scenarios - only by margin of error (<5%) but ti just shows thw CPU doesn't really make any difference when the GPU is the bottleneck.

    But if you just say ... "I always just want Intel ", without trying to justify it will be a little less like a grasp at that last straw. Especially in for in the near future.

    Adobe+Quicksync is an actual reason to stick with Intel ... if you are a heavy Adobe user.
    Reply