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"

#51
Darmok N Jalad
Vayra86, post: 4082674, member: 152404"
We can complain about the 4 core rampage all day long but let's face it, nobody had a purpose for anything much more for most things. It just didn't pay off. Intel's focus on IPC was the right one, if you ask me. But they should really have pushed more cores from Broadwell onwards; they just simply had no reason to because there was no competition.



I agree, this Intel story, for once, seems pretty credible. Its also quite something to admit this publicly, albeit with a positive spin.

But now imagine if they screw up 7nm with their 'realistic target' ;)
I agree. The push for more IPC and efficiency will allow for breakthroughs in core count. However, I think Intel held at 4C for as long as they did is for production optimization. More cores make bigger chips. For a time, from Sandy Bridge to maybe Haswell, Intel put the extra die space in improving the IGP. The problem is that since Skylake, they really haven’t moved the needle on anything but refining 14nm and adding cores (which goes contrary to their small die objective). The 10nm screw up has likely cost them in executing advancements, as none of them are likely designed for the 14nm node.

bug, post: 4082761, member: 157434"
Yup, battery life, SpeedStep, better IGP (though not earth shattering). Everything but raw HP has improved.
But how much of that is from just die shrinks? Sandy Bridge was the biggest jump for IGP improvements. Even now, IGP gains has seemingly stalled. Though Ice Lake will work to counter that.
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#52
bug
Darmok N Jalad, post: 4082782, member: 170588"
But how much of that is from just die shrinks? Sandy Bridge was the biggest jump for IGP improvements. Even now, IGP gains has seemingly stalled. Though Ice Lake will work to counter that.
Well, SpeedStep surely didn't come from die shrinks. Better video decoders didn't come from die shrinks (though you could argue, having room for more transistors made that possible).
And let's not forget Intel pushed forward the SSD market as well with their X25-M. I know, different division, but just saying, they weren't just sitting still like some like to think.

And let's not forget, Ryzen only matches Intel's current IPC. If Intel didn't mess up with Ice Lake, Ryzen would have been playing catch up from the very beginning.
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#53
FreedomEclipse
~Technological Technocrat~
Not as aggressive as paying off all the retailers and OEM system builders to sell more intel units.
Posted on Reply
#54
bug
FreedomEclipse, post: 4082788, member: 38411"
Not as aggressive as paying off all the retailers and OEM system builders to sell more intel units.
It wasn't a pay off. It was just that AMD had such a small market share (<10%) that when Intel offered a 10% discount on their CPUs, builders were suddenly getting the remaining 10% of the CPUs for free, if they stuck with Intel.
It was still shot down in court, so I'm not defending the practice. I'm just saying, it wasn't something as obvious as a pay off.
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#55
efikkan
While Intel might have been a little too ambitious with their shrink to 10nm, even with the best of planning and effort 10nm would still have gotten delayed and at best be similarly successful to TSMC's "7nm". And we have to remember that the upcoming nodes are not going to get easier, this is the new normal, and they have to deal with it.

The more important issue, which most seem to miss, is Intel's lack of a proper backup plan. Intel have put good development effort into Sunny Cove, which features their largest improvement in single thread performance since Sandy Bridge, but a lot of that effort is "wasted" when they don't have a suitable node to produce it on. If they had only done a small effort to prepare the architecture for 14nm as well, they would have been in a much better position right now. Luckily though, it's not like their development efforts have slowed down significantly, and Sapphire Rapids scheduled for 2021 should offer additional single thread improvements over Ice Lake/Sunny Cove, which seems to get a rather short "lifespan" in the market. So we should have some exciting years ahead of us with several improvements from both Intel and AMD, after several years of boring refreshes.

Mephis, post: 4082530, member: 186806"
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.
Don't forget that it was Intel's repeated "screwups" on 10nm which allowed AMD to catch up. Ice Lake/Sunny Cove was supposed to launch in 2017.
Also, for the record, 6-core Coffee Lake was know before the launch of Zen. Mainstream 6-cores for the initial Skylake(2015) was not realistic due to the state of the 14nm at that time, most people have forgotten that it was very troublesome for some time.
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#56
DeathtoGnomes
bug, post: 4082789, member: 157434"
It wasn't a pay off. It was just that AMD had such a small market share (<10%) that when Intel offered a 10% discount on their CPUs, builders were suddenly getting the remaining 10% of the CPUs for free, if they stuck with Intel.
It was still shot down in court, so I'm not defending the practice. I'm just saying, it wasn't something as obvious as a pay off.
obvious to whom? Looked pretty obvious to a lot of people. Dont deceive yourself Intel does way too much underhanded 'stuff', so if you must call it something....
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#57
Wavetrex
EarthDog, post: 4082753, member: 79836"
You had a choice, you just chose not to do it for whatever reason...be it the higher cost or whatever... but, you had a choice.
Having to pay just for the CPU more than for the entire computer with a quad core was simply insane.
That is no "choice", it's like being mugged at gun-point on the street is a "choice"...

But anyway, I'm glad those days are over.
Finally there is a choice.
Phew !
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#58
Darmok N Jalad
bug, post: 4082785, member: 157434"
Well, SpeedStep surely didn't come from die shrinks. Better video decoders didn't come from die shrinks (though you could argue, having room for more transistors made that possible).
And let's not forget Intel pushed forward the SSD market as well with their X25-M. I know, different division, but just saying, they weren't just sitting still like some like to think.

And let's not forget, Ryzen only matches Intel's current IPC. If Intel didn't mess up with Ice Lake, Ryzen would have been playing catch up from the very beginning.
No doubt. Sandy Bridge was really the chip that changed it all. Once SB was introduced, Intel was able to refine it with iterative updates. Die shrinks made expanding the various components possible. You might even argue that Nehalem/Westmere were the catalysts with their IMCs, but SB gave us the first good graphics from Intel.
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#59
R-T-B
Gungar, post: 4082498, member: 163163"
Are you an cpu engineer to claim that?
You don't have to be. You can just look at the codenames and IPC differences and infer that signifigant changes went on under the hood between kentfield and Skylake series.

Wikichip cooberates this, for the engineer inclined.

Konceptz, post: 4082509, member: 59570"
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..
i7-990x Nehalem/Westmere says hello.

IPC man... it can't be identical chips with it changed. if there weren't innovating the cores, there'd be more of them, rest assured.
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#60
efikkan
Darmok N Jalad, post: 4082808, member: 170588"
No doubt. Sandy Bridge was really the chip that changed it all. Once SB was introduced, Intel was able to refine it with iterative updates.
Not really, it's more a question of focus.
Haswell and Skylake have been major architectural changes to facilitate massive improvements for AVX, specialized acceleration and to some extent multi-core scaling, but unfortunately the IPC gains have been fairly small.
Ice Lake(Sunny Cove), which is two years overdue, seems to rectify some of this, by improving significantly integer multiplication/division, cache and load/store operations, all of which supposedly offers ~18% IPC gain, while only offering marginal improvements in SIMD over Skylake-X.
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#61
voltage
Just give me ICE LAKE already. I have been waiting for So many YEARS. I am sick of hearing about amd this, amd that, amd... Hello INTEL, release ICELAKE!
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#62
EarthDog
Manu_PT, post: 4082720, member: 168799"
So you are so worried about that, yet you go buy exactly one of
[quote=Wavetrex, post: 4082807, member: 182738"]
Having to pay just for the CPU more than for the entire computer with a quad core was simply insane.
That is no "choice", it's like being mugged at gun-point on the street is a "choice"...

But anyway, I'm glad those days are over.
Finally there is a choice.
Phew !
There's a choice though. ;)

It was also part of the hedt platform which bridges the gap between consumer and server with a workstation class part. Where time is money, 50% more cores/threads, it could be worth it. But again, it was HEDT, not where most consumers play.[/quote]
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#63
TheGuruStud
Blah, blah, blah. By the time Intel can actually compete, zen 5 will be launching lol
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#64
Mephis
TheGuruStud, post: 4082844, member: 42692"
Blah, blah, blah. By the time Intel can actually compete, zen 5 will be launching lol
I didn't know Zen 5 was launching now. From the Zen 2 reviews, Intel can still compete and still lead in single thread performance.
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#65
TheGuruStud
Mephis, post: 4082854, member: 186806"
I didn't know Zen 5 was launching now. From the Zen 2 reviews, Intel can still compete and still lead in single thread performance.
No one cares. Market share continues to fall.
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#66
lewis007
bug, post: 4082495, member: 157434"
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.
Yep there's always that...LMAO!!
Posted on Reply
#68
metalkhor
Is it just me or every body else is confused too?
how come 10nm compared to 14nm will have 2.7x density improvement but 7nm will have 2x density improvement?
and anything else that he said was completely lies and there is no evidence of it in real world.
Either Mr. swan is a moron or he think that we are bunch of morons!
Posted on Reply
#69
DeathtoGnomes
metalkhor, post: 4082924, member: 68681"
Is it just me or every body else is confused too?
how come 10nm compared to 14nm will have 2.7x density improvement but 7nm will have 2x density improvement?
and anything else that he said was completely lies and there is no evidence of it in real world.
Either Mr. swan is a moron or he think that we are bunch of morons!
gibberish. comparing what to what? lying about what? evidence?
Posted on Reply
#70
londiste
efikkan, post: 4082798, member: 150226"
The more important issue, which most seem to miss, is Intel's lack of a proper backup plan. Intel have put good development effort into Sunny Cove, which features their largest improvement in single thread performance since Sandy Bridge, but a lot of that effort is "wasted" when they don't have a suitable node to produce it on. If they had only done a small effort to prepare the architecture for 14nm as well, they would have been in a much better position right now.
Would Sunny Cove cores be viable on 14nm? I mean literally, in terms of transistors, die size as well as heat.

Assuming things are similar enough for Intel/TSMC 14nm and 10nm/7nm, Zen+ > Zen2 went from 4.8B transistors to 3.9 + 2.09 = 5.99B transistors. Intel does not disclose the transistor count on current CPUs but 8700K is estimated to have a little above 3B transistors and 9900K a little less than 4B which puts Intel's 14nm density roughly on par with TSMC's (and/or architecture density on par with AMD).
- Zen+ is 4.8B in 213mm^2 die (22Mtr/mm^2)
- Zen2 is 3.9B in 74mm^2 CCD (53Mtr/mm^2) and 2.09B in 124mm^2 IOD (17Mtr/mm^2)

There seems to be more and more evidence that IO does not scale well and relatively less dense IO die seems to support that notion. When it comes to cores themselves, 7nm is more than twice as dense as 14nm - 2.4x, give or take. Zen2 has about 40% more transistors in cores compared to Zen+ (and this might be a conservative estimate given changes with IO)

Sunny Cove improvements over Skylake pretty much mirror the changes AMD did with Zen2, increase in transistors needed to implement it should be roughly similar as well. Now, while manufacturing dies does not seem to be a big problem (in terms of yields) heat at 14nm is definitely a problem. 9900K is evidence enough. Now, imagine a 40% larger die with similar power density...

metalkhor, post: 4082924, member: 68681"
Is it just me or every body else is confused too?
how come 10nm compared to 14nm will have 2.7x density improvement but 7nm will have 2x density improvement?
and anything else that he said was completely lies and there is no evidence of it in real world.
Either Mr. swan is a moron or he think that we are bunch of morons!
What are you talking about?
Lets leave Intel aside for a moment. TSMC does not say direct comparison between 16nm and 7nm on their web page because they have a 10nm process between these. However, TSMC does state 16 > 10 was 2x density (15% faster, 35% less power) and 10 > 7 was 1.6x density (20% faster and 40% less power). This makes out 16 > 7 having 3.2x density improvement. Granted, TSMC's 16nm is a little less dense than Intel's 14nm and Intel's 10nm was initially (that 2.7x claim) intended to be denser than the current version but the scale is correct enough.

The stated density improvements are naturally somewhat real-life but best case scenarios. High performance versions of manufacturing processes that are used for CPUs or GPUs are less dense and less power efficient than mobile-oriented process versions.
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#71
Vayra86
R-T-B, post: 4082812, member: 41983"
You don't have to be. You can just look at the codenames and IPC differences and infer that signifigant changes went on under the hood between kentfield and Skylake series.

Wikichip cooberates this, for the engineer inclined.



i7-990x Nehalem/Westmere says hello.

IPC man... it can't be identical chips with it changed. if there weren't innovating the cores, there'd be more of them, rest assured.
I love how people whine about the eternal quads and casually forget there is HEDT since they were in diapers. As if AMD was always the only company doing 'moar cores', lol. The only difference is that Intel is and was always better at extracting money from their technology. The HEDT line up is exactly that. Its just more of the same, mostly, and it was even late to market, but it still sold.
Posted on Reply
#72
bug
Vayra86, post: 4082970, member: 152404"
I love how people whine about the eternal quads and casually forget there is HEDT since they were in diapers. As if AMD was always the only company doing 'moar cores', lol. The only difference is that Intel is and was always better at extracting money from their technology. The HEDT line up is exactly that. Its just more of the same, mostly, and it was even late to market, but it still sold.
I think it's mostly a matter of price. We had many cores, but they cost a lot more than they do today.
Me, I'm not held back by my quad core (didn't even bother with HT), but at the new prices, I'm tempted to upgrade just because.
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#73
Vya Domus
Vayra86, post: 4082970, member: 152404"
I love how people whine about the eternal quads and casually forget there is HEDT since they were in diapers.
Your point being ? Here's a fun fact, in 2011 Intel released 10 core Nehalem based Xeons, that's an architecture dating back to 2008 may I remind you and it wasn't even that big, relatively speaking, at just over 500 mm^2.

It's painfully obvious they had the capability to deliver more cores to the mainstream market but chose not to. To me as a consumer, the fact that Intel is better at extracting money means jack shit, all I see is a company that has been sandbagging for almost a decade.
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#74
Xx Tek Tip xX
Vya Domus, post: 4082993, member: 169281"
Your point being ? Here's a fun fact, in 2011 Intel released 10 core Nehalem based Xeons, that's an architecture dating back to 2008 may I remind you and it wasn't even that big, relatively speaking, at just over 500 mm^2.
Point? It's called not lying about intel having only 4 cores during that time period as there are other options, fanboys are just looking at the mainstream, and most of the mainstream aren't going to need more than four cores in reality.

TheGuruStud, post: 4082860, member: 42692"
No one cares. Market share continues to fall.
Correction, you don't care. People will and can continue to buy Intel.
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#75
Vya Domus
Xx Tek Tip xX, post: 4083001, member: 178884"
most of the mainstream aren't going to need more than four cores in reality.
Who is mainstream and how do you know what they need ? If they don't need more that 4 cores what the hell is Intel doing with CPUs like the 9900K and god forbid we mention the 16 core 3950X.
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