Wednesday, July 17th 2019

Intel's CEO Blames 10 nm Delay on being "Too Aggressive"

During Fortune's Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Colorado, Intel's CEO Bob Swan took stage and talked about the company, about where Intel is now and where they are headed in the future and how the company plans to evolve. Particular focus was put on how Intel became "data centric" from "PC centric," and the struggles it encountered.

However, when asked about the demise of Moore's Law, Swan detailed the aggressiveness that they approached the challenge with. Instead of the regular two times improvement in transistor density every two years, Swan said that Intel has always targeted better and greater densities so that it would stay the leader in the business.
With 10 nm, Intel targets improved density by as much as 2.7x compared to the last generation of 14 nm transistors. He addressed the five year delay in delivering the 10 nm node being caused by "too aggressive innovation," adding that "... at a time it gets harder and harder, we set more aggressive goal..." and that's the main reason for the late delivery. Additionally he said that this time, Intel will stay at exactly 2x density improvements over two years with the company's 7 nm node, which is supposed to launch in two years and is already in development.

When talking about the future of Intel, Swan has noted that Intel's current market share is 30% of the "silicon market", saying that Intel is trying to diversify its current offerings from mainly CPUs and FPGAs to everything that requires big compute performance, in order to capture rest of the market. He noted that Artificial Intelligence is currently driving big demand for such performance, with autonomous vehicles expected to be a big source of revenue for Intel in the future. Through acquisitions like Mobileye, Intel plans to serve that market and increase the company's value.

You can listen to the talk here.
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111 Comments on Intel's CEO Blames 10 nm Delay on being "Too Aggressive"

#1
bug
Or, to use the technical term, they bit off more than they could chew.
Posted on Reply
#2
Mark Little
I'm sorry but I can't let Intel try to blame their massive mistakes on being too awesome. The reason for the huge 10 nm delay is the total lack of competition from its rivals. Here is Intel mainstream desktop progression over the last twelve years:

4 cores 65 nm Kentsfield
4 cores 45 nm Clarksfield/Bloomfield/Lynnfield
4 cores 32 nm Westmere/Sandy Bridge
4 cores 22 nm Ivy Bridge/Haswell
4 cores 14 nm Broadwell/Skylake/Kaby Lake

For some reason, they stopped innovating over that entire time on the core architecture but instead focused only on die shrinks in the total absence of any competition. I'm guessing that with each shrink they could make more volume for less money to sell more chips (up to a point of course). Its all about profit and in the absence of competition, companies choose greed over innovation. No Intel, your 10 nm delay is not because you were too awesome. It would have been awesome if you went from 4 cores at 65 nm to over 32 cores at 14 nm regardless of your competitors. That would have been impressive. No, instead you were just greedy. Sadly most companies are like this.
Posted on Reply
#3
_Flare
the Broadwell 14nm i7-5775C launched Q2´2015
thats now over 4 years ago
Desktop 10nm isn´t anywhere near, maybe we can buy it Q2´2020
thats 5 years after 14nm launch
wow thats way too aggressive

intel simply fell asleep over their single-thread-lead
and now tsmc and samsung are knocking
Posted on Reply
#4
Konceptz
More like "we got lazy because we had no competition, and people don't need more than 4 cores"
Posted on Reply
#5
bug
Mark Little, post: 4082484, member: 168714"
I'm sorry but I can't let Intel try to blame their massive mistakes on being too awesome. The reason for the huge 10 nm delay is the total lack of competition from its rivals. Here is Intel mainstream desktop progression over the last twelve years:

4 cores 65 nm Kentsfield
4 cores 45 nm Clarksfield/Bloomfield/Lynnfield
4 cores 32 nm Westmere/Sandy Bridge
4 cores 22 nm Ivy Bridge/Haswell
4 cores 14 nm Broadwell/Skylake/Kaby Lake

For some reason, they stopped innovating over that entire time on the core architecture but instead focused only on die shrinks in the total absence of any competition. I'm guessing that with each shrink they could make more volume for less money to sell more chips (up to a point of course). Its all about profit and in the absence of competition, companies choose greed over innovation. No Intel, your 10 nm delay is not because you were too awesome. It would have been awesome if you went from 4 cores at 65 nm to over 32 cores at 14 nm regardless of your competitors. That would have been impressive. No, instead you were just greedy. Sadly most companies are like this.
They didn't stop innovating, they shifted focus to the booming mobile market. A 4 core Skylake laptop will blow a 4 core Kentsfield laptop out of the water any day.
Posted on Reply
#6
Gungar
Konceptz, post: 4082492, member: 59570"
More like "we got lazy because we had no competition, and people don't need more than 4 cores"
Are you an cpu engineer to claim that?
Posted on Reply
#7
yakk
Sounds like Intel got caught slowing down innovation in favor of their profits, but their competition caught up much faster than they anticipated.

Now they are stuck for a bit and are paying top dollar to catch up. However Intel probably still made more profits this way than not showing down their innovation.
Posted on Reply
#8
64K
When I look at Intel's advancements over the last 8 years since Sandy Bridge "too aggressive" doesn't even come to mind. Lazy and greedy, yes but not aggressive.
Posted on Reply
#9
Vya Domus
Being aggressive while failing to properly evaluate your situation is plain and simple stupidity. Passing it as being something else is disingenuous.

Let's be real here, you don't fall behind because you don't have competition, if anything that should give you an advantage just look at Nvidia.

After the dust settled my only conclusion is that Intel is simply dealing with a good deal of incompetence right now that's cushioned by a large market share.
Posted on Reply
#10
metalfiber
Too aggressive?,,,More like inept. AMD at 7nm and intel is struggling with 10nm. Someone needs to take responsibility and heads need to roll at the top like Intel's CEO Bob Swan. AMD show's what a fresh new CEO can do for a company.
Posted on Reply
#11
Fouquin
metalfiber, post: 4082504, member: 174420"
Too aggressive?,,,More like inept. AMD at 7nm and intel is struggling with 10nm. Someone needs to take responsibility and heads need to roll at the top like Intel's CEO Bob Swan. AMD show's what a fresh new CEO can do for a company.
Bob Swan inherited these issues, he didn't create them. He hasn't even been with Intel long enough (joined October 10th, 2016) to have any meaningful impact in the decision making leading up to the 14nm-10nm transition, and basically just jumped into a half flooded ship to bail water and get things on course.
Posted on Reply
#12
Konceptz
Gungar, post: 4082498, member: 163163"
Are you an cpu engineer to claim that?
Wasn't aware you had to be a CPU engineer to recall the last decade of CPUs....look how long it took the i7s to become 6 physical cores..
Posted on Reply
#13
Crackong
Too aggressive...in milking I guess.
Posted on Reply
#14
R0H1T
Mark Little, post: 4082484, member: 168714"
I'm sorry but I can't let Intel try to blame their massive mistakes on being too awesome. The reason for the huge 10 nm delay is the total lack of competition from its rivals. Here is Intel mainstream desktop progression over the last twelve years:

4 cores 65 nm Kentsfield
4 cores 45 nm Clarksfield/Bloomfield/Lynnfield
4 cores 32 nm Westmere/Sandy Bridge
4 cores 22 nm Ivy Bridge/Haswell
4 cores 14 nm Broadwell/Skylake/Kaby Lake

For some reason, they stopped innovating over that entire time on the core architecture but instead focused only on die shrinks in the total absence of any competition. I'm guessing that with each shrink they could make more volume for less money to sell more chips (up to a point of course). Its all about profit and in the absence of competition, companies choose greed over innovation. No Intel, your 10 nm delay is not because you were too awesome. It would have been awesome if you went from 4 cores at 65 nm to over 32 cores at 14 nm regardless of your competitors. That would have been impressive. No, instead you were just greedy. Sadly most companies are like this.
That's kinda like saying you stopped being honest because there was no oversight, I know I'm stretching it a bit but Intel was fully responsible for this mess not AMD or Via!

They sort of knew only 1 way to beat AMD (pre Dozer) & that was node shrinks, when you become a 1 trick pony this was bound to happen. Yes they did bring some major innovations & changes to the x86 space however their last major release was SB IMO, since then they've been meh at best & definitely greedy by restricting the consumer space to quad cores!
Posted on Reply
#15
metalfiber
Fouquin, post: 4082508, member: 157604"
Bob Swan inherited these issues, he didn't create them.
Hopefully he fixes the issues then but being there over a year now and making excuses doesn't inspire confidence.
Posted on Reply
#16
Fouquin
Konceptz, post: 4082509, member: 59570"
look how long it took the i7s to become 6 physical cores..
16 months. i7-980X came out March 16, 2010.
Posted on Reply
#17
ppn
according to wikichip 7nm is 237, 10nm is 101 and 14nm is 44Mtr/mm2 so both shrinks are ~~2.3x not 2.7 or 2.0..
Posted on Reply
#18
Mephis
Konceptz, post: 4082492, member: 59570"
More like "we got lazy because we had no competition, and people don't need more than 4 cores"
yakk, post: 4082499, member: 158293"
Sounds like Intel got caught slowing down innovation in favor of their profits, but their competition caught up much faster than they anticipated.

Now they are stuck for a bit and are paying top dollar to catch up. However Intel probably still made more profits this way than not showing down their innovation.
64K, post: 4082500, member: 148270"
When I look at Intel's advancements over the last 8 years since Sandy Bridge "too aggressive" doesn't even come to mind. Lazy and greedy, yes but not aggressive.
Yes, the problems with their 10nm transition were because they attempted to be too aggressive. They originally targeted characteristics for 10nm that would have made it equivelant to TSMC's 5nm. That was too aggressive and they couldn't pull it off. So there new 10nm will match TSMC's 7nm.


metalfiber, post: 4082504, member: 174420"
Too aggressive?,,,More like inept. AMD at 7nm and intel is struggling with 10nm. Someone needs to take responsibility and heads need to roll at the top like Intel's CEO Bob Swan. AMD show's what a fresh new CEO can do for a company.
Like I said above thier 10nm will be equivalent to, if not a little better than TSMC 7nm. And heads did role, that is why Bob Swan is now the CEO, and Kraznich is out.
Posted on Reply
#19
R0H1T
Mephis, post: 4082519, member: 186806"
That was too aggressive and they couldn't pull it off. So there new 10nm will match TSMC's 7nm.
They experienced delays at 22nm & 14nm, 10nm problems were fully self inflicted.
You could call it being too aggressive or unrealistic, you don't beat Physics with (extra) money that's a life long lesson Intel would've learnt!
Posted on Reply
#20
micropage7
too aggressive after AMD hit their crown? maybe yes since it looks Intel goes nowhere now
Posted on Reply
#21
Mephis
R0H1T, post: 4082522, member: 131092"
They experienced delays at 22nm & 14nm, 10nm problems were fully self inflicted.
You could call it being too aggressive or unrealistic, you don't beat Physics with (extra) money that's a life long lesson Intel would've learnt!
You are absolutely right, you can't beat physics. And the problems were self inflicted. I don't think anyone is disagreeing with you.
Posted on Reply
#22
R0H1T
Sure, I think Intel could've done a lot more than just relying on node shrinks over the last decade or so. The computing space would've been much richer & more exciting if they did that.
Posted on Reply
#23
Mephis
R0H1T, post: 4082526, member: 131092"
Sure I just think Intel could've done a lot more than just relying on node shrinks over the last decade or so. The computing space would've been much richer & more exciting if they did that.
If you mean add more cores, then sure they could have done that. But look at single thread performance, even with the huge turn around at AMD they are just now pulling even with Skylake, an architecture that has been out for almost 4 years. If it were that easy to surpass it and improve performance then AMD would have done it.
Posted on Reply
#24
bug
R0H1T, post: 4082526, member: 131092"
Sure, I think Intel could've done a lot more than just relying on node shrinks over the last decade or so. The computing space would've been much richer & more exciting if they did that.
Depends on what you mean by "richer & more exciting". We could have had 12+ cores on the desktop in exchange for still lugging around 6lb+ laptops having 2hr autonomy or less. Would that qualify as "richer & more exciting"?

(There's also the ideal scenario where Intel didn't essentially waste their resources on their failed mobile endeavor, but let's cut them some slack there)
Posted on Reply
#25
R0H1T
There's more like - chiplets, IF, TB (could've become mainstream way back) & possibly Optane? You can't blame them for being profit driven, however as a consumer I can definitely blame them for being too greedy.

Intel's revealing more of their cards now because they are forced to, they wouldn't have been in that position if they were more customer centric & less profit driven.
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