CNET reports that during a call discussing Intel's third-quarter earnings, CEO Brian Krzanich said that the company will begin production on Broadwell in the first quarter of 2014 instead of the final quarter of 2013. He said the delay is caused by a "defect density issue" that impacts the number of usable chips, or yields.
Typically, when defects are discovered, Intel implements a set of fixes and then moves on to mass production. However, in the case of Broadwell, the fixes didn't deliver all the improvements Intel had anticipated. Intel now believes the correct batch of fixes are in place, and the company should go into mass production sometime in the next quarter.
"We have confidence the problem is fixed because we have data it is fixed," he said. "This happens sometimes in development phases like this. That's why we moved it a quarter. [Intel and its PC partners] have a strong desire to get Broadwell to market. If I could, there'd be nothing slowing me down. This is a small blip in the schedule, and we'll continue on from here."
Skylake, the PC chip to follow Broadwell, won't be delayed, he said.
On Tuesday, Intel reported better than expected revenue for its third-quarter earnings, but is keeping a cautious eye on the fourth quarter. Intel reported $3 billion, or 58 cents a share, on revenue of $13.5 billion, flat from the same quarter from a year ago. Wall Street actually expected to see less: 53 cents a share on revenue of $13.46 billion. Intel reported that its data center group was up 12.2 percent from a year ago, and its PC client group was down 3.5 percent.
Intel was likely counting on Broadwell to push its PC client group up in revenue for the fourth quarter and first quarter of 2014, but now the company is seeing a delay. Broadwell is based on the same architecture used in Haswell, allowing PC builders to rip out their Haswell chip for the newer model. "Broadwell and Haswell are pin compatible, so for the most part this will slide into existing systems," Krzanich said.
Intel's Broadwell chip is expected to make devices even faster, thinner and lighter than the previous generation, as well as boost device battery life. The chip is the first to be manufactured using the 14 nm processing technology, reportedly putting the company at least a year ahead of its rivals. Intel is promising to go even smaller, down to 7 nm, allowing the company to pack even more transistors onto each chip, making them more powerful while draining less battery charge or power.