Report: Intel May Hold On To 10nm Cannonlake Microarchitecture Platform

Intel may postpone the release of its 10nm Cannonlake microarchitecture processor platform, slated to launch in 2016, according to a leaked product tablet from Benchlife.

The report suggested that the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company would push back the long-anticipated Cannonlake platform and instead release new chips derived from its upcoming 14nm Skylake platform, continuing to drive its processor offerings for mobile devices, such as tablets, 2-in-1s and laptops.

"It would make sense that if Intel wanted to delay 10nm on the desktop, they would [release] something in between Skylake and Cannonlake to continue beefing up Cannonlake," said Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst of Moor Insights & Strategy, a tech analyst firm based in Austin, Texas. "If this report is true then it would indicate two things -- that Intel is more focused on improving processors for notebooks and high-end tablets … or that they're having challenges with the 10nm microarchitecture."

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Intel's upcoming sixth-generation microarchitecture Skylake, its successor to Broadwell that will baptize a slew of 14nm processors and target both mobile and personal computing devices, is the chip giant's next microarchitecture, expected to be released at the Intel Developer Forum on Aug. 15.

The platform scheduled to be released after that, the Cannonlake microarchitecture, represents a "tock" in Intel's "tick-tock" schedule; while the "tick" symbolizes a reproduction in node size, "tock" represents a new architecture.

However, according to the leaked product, Intel will delay the Cannonlake microarchitecture and instead offer a new microarchitecture that is a 14nm derivative of Skylake, dubbed Kaby Lake.

System builders for their part said delays in Intel's Cannonlake microarchitecture would not be unexpected, in part because of the complexity and innovation behind designing 10nm chips.

"[This rumor] is not entirely surprising given the delays we’d seen with Broadwell and the lack of any real competition driving them to even meet expectations, let alone exceed them," said Andrew Kretzer, director of sales and marketing at Bold Data Technology, a Fremont, Calif.-based system builder.

Todd Swank, senior director of product marketing at Equus Computer Systems, a Minnetonka, Minn.-based system builder, said system builders are currently more focused on Intel's Skylake platform and whether that will drive new business with customers.

"This doesn't shock me at all -- you get down to 10nm and it's hard to conceptualize products that are so small," he said. "But typical system builders not too concerned, as they are more focused on Windows 10 and Skylake. We are hopeful Skylake will bring a new generation of performance, and it seems like it is on track, so no one's concerned with Cannonlake yet."

Intel did not immediately respond to a request for comment before publication.