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Intel Candidly Discusses Troubles at Credit Suisse 22nd Annual TMT Conference

For years Intel was able to maintain their endless tick-tock cycle however with the switch from 14nm to 10nm Intel realized all too late that they had bitten off more than they could chew. According to Robert Swan, Intel's Interim Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer, "we set out in the transition to 10 nm to attempt to scale much faster than we ever had at a time when I think most would argue the technology and the science and the challenges are more challenging they've ever been. So, we took a fairly aggressive scaling factor, roughly 2x of what the competitors do. So, we went for the analogy that a grand slam, I think, when the competition was hitting really solid singles."

Essentially Intel had hedged their bets that they could take a revolutionary step instead of the more typical evolutionary one thereby leaving their competition behind. Instead, it's resulted in the current situation that we are all very much aware of, that Intel is far behind their original predicted schedule. While that timeline has since been revised and they are now on course to release 10nm products in 2019, and 2020 Intel has also made it known that they plan to regain their leadership position as that transition begins.

14nm 6th Time Over: Intel Readies 10-core "Comet Lake" Die to Preempt "Zen 2" AM4

If Intel's now-defunct "tick-tock" product development cadence held its ground, the 14 nm silicon fabrication node should have seen just two micro-architectures, "Broadwell" and "Skylake," with "Broadwell" being an incrementally improved optical shrink of 22 nm "Haswell," and "Skylake" being a newer micro-architecture built on a then more matured 14 nm node. Intel's silicon fabrication node advancement went off the rails in 2015-16, and 14 nm would go on to be the base for three more "generations," including the 7th generation "Kaby Lake," the 8th generation "Coffee Lake," and 9th generation "Coffee Lake Refresh." The latter two saw Intel increase core-counts after AMD broke its slumber. It turns out that Intel won't let the 8-core "Coffee Lake Refresh" die pull the weight of Intel's competitiveness and prestige through 2019, and is planning yet another stopgap, codenamed "Comet Lake."

Intel's next silicon fabrication node, 10 nm, takes off only toward the end of 2019, and AMD is expected to launch its 7 nm "Zen 2" architecture much sooner than that (debuts in December 2018). Intel probably fears AMD could launch client-segment "Zen 2" processors before Intel's first 10 nm client-segment products, to cash in on its competitive edge. Intel is looking to blunt that with "Comet Lake." Designed for the LGA115x mainstream-desktop platform, "Comet Lake" is a 10-core processor die built on 14 nm, and could be the foundation of the 10th generation Core processor family. It's unlikely that the underlying core design is changed from "Skylake" (circa 2016). It could retain the same cache hierarchy, with 256 KB per core L2 cache, and 20 MB shared L3 cache. All is not rosy in the AMD camp. The first AMD 7 nm processors will target the enterprise segment and not client, and CEO Lisa Su in her quarterly financial results calls has been evasive about when the first 7 nm client-segment products could come out. There was some chatter in September of a "Zen+" based 10-core socket AM4 product leading up to them.

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Introduces Avera Semi

GLOBALFOUNDRIES today announced the establishment of Avera Semiconductor LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary dedicated to providing custom silicon solutions for a broad range of applications. Avera Semi will leverage deep ties with GF to deliver ASIC offerings on 14/12nm and more mature technologies while providing clients new capabilities and access to alternate foundry processes at 7nm and beyond.

Avera Semi is built upon an unrivaled legacy of ASIC expertise, tapping into a world-class team that has executed more than 2,000 complex designs in its 25-year history. With more than 850 employees, annual revenues in excess of $500 million, and over $3 billion in 14nm designs in execution, Avera Semi is well positioned to serve clients developing products across a wide range of markets, including wired and wireless networking, data centers and storage, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and aerospace and defense.

More Buyers for AMD Due to Intel CPU Shortages, OEMs Unhappy

Intel is hit by crippling inventory shortages for many of its fast-selling 8th generation Core desktop processor SKUs. A number of factors are contributing to these shortages, as we discussed in this article. A key short-term consequence of shortages in Intel's inventories is more uninitiated buyers discovering AMD processors, now that they've achieved the highest levels of competitiveness against Intel in over a decade. Stock market analyst firm Jefferies has raised AMD's outlook for Q4-2018, and projects that its $30 stock price could hit $36, by raising its target price.

OEMs are not happy with Intel. Haphazard roadmap and platform changes have forced them to revise their product designs way too frequently, and now they're faced with the prospect of a short-supply. A report from research firm Fubon predicts that by next year, 1 in every 3 personal computers sold by HP (Hewlett Packard) will run an AMD processor. "Fubon's report that Intel will undersupply the PC market between 4Q18 and 2Q19 leaves us with higher conviction that AMD will report improving revenue, pricing and margins near term, and that is positioned to take share in the high end PC MPU and server market long term," said stock market analyst Mark Lipacis. He predicts that AMD's CPU market-share climbing to 30% through next year (a very huge feat for AMD).

Intel to Move Select Chipset Fabrication Back to 22nm in Wake of 14 nm Silicon Constraints

Things seem to be taking turns to the worse at Intel in accordance to Murphy's law. Not only was the company hit with a multitude of security flaws embedded in their CPUs, which puts their michroarchitecture design chops in jeopardy, but now they also have to contend with silicon fabrication snags. That Intel's 14 nm fabs are being hit with overwhelming demand for their output capacity is already a known quantity, with rising prices of Intel mainstream CPUs and reports of the company outsourcing 14 nm chip production to TSMC in a bid to increase availability - a first since the company became vertically integrated with both design and manufacturing of their own chips.

TSMC to Build Intel 14nm Processors and Chipsets

Try to wrap your head around Intel contracting TSMC to build some of its processors! With its own 14 nanometer silicon fabrication nodes under stress from manufacturing several generations of Core and Xeon processors simultaneously, leading to market shortages, Intel is looking to contract TSMC to manufacture some of its 14 nm products. Among these are certain models of its desktop processors, and several 300-series chipsets, including the H310, which are currently fabbed on Intel's last 22 nm node, that's probably being converted to 14 nm.

The TSMC contract appears to be moving faster than expected, with the Taiwanese fab eager to demonstrate its competence to Intel and secure future orders as the company is closer than ever in going fully or partly fabless. According to industry observers, Intel is staring at a 1:2 supply-demand ratio, for the countless chip it's building on 14 nm; which may have forced it to contract some of these chip designs to TSMC. Motherboard vendors expect Intel to sort out its supply issues by the end of 2018, with big help from TSMC.

Intel 14nm Processors Face Shortages

Intel's 8th generation Core desktop processors based on the company's 14 nm node are facing shortages in the market, according to a Tom's Hardware report. Tracking prices and availability of popular 8th generation Core SKUs such as the i5-8400, i5-8600K, and i7-8700K, the report notes that retailers are heavily marking up these SKUs above their SEP, and many of whom are running out of stock often. This may not be attributed to heavy demand.

A possible explanation for these shortages could be Intel allocating volumes from the same 14 nm++ node for its upcoming 9th generation Core processors, which debut with three SKUs - i5-9600K, i7-9700K, and i9-9900K. Intel probably wants to launch the three chips not just at competitive prices, but also good enough volumes to win the 2018 Holiday season, and repair its competitiveness damaged by AMD 2nd generation Ryzen over the past couple of quarters.

AMD Radeon Pro WX 8200 Launched at $999

AMD today announced a high-performance addition to the Radeon Pro WX workstation graphics lineup with the AMD Radeon Pro WX 8200 graphics card, delivering the world's best workstation graphics performance for under $1,000 for real-time visualization, virtual reality (VR) and photorealistic rendering. AMD also unveiled major updates to Radeon ProRender and a new alliance with the Vancouver Film School, enabling the next-generation of creators to realize their VFX visions through the power of Radeon Pro graphics.

The new turbocharged AMD Radeon Pro WX 8200 graphics card allows professionals to effortlessly accelerate design and rendering. It is the ideal graphics card for design and manufacturing, media and entertainment, and architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) workloads at all stages of product development.

Intel "Cooper Lake" Latest 14nm Stopgap Between "Cascade Lake" and "Ice Lake"

With no end to its 10 nm transition woes in sight (at least not until late-2019), Intel is left with refinement of its existing CPU micro-architectures on the 14 nanometer node. The client-desktop segment sees the introduction of the "Whiskey Lake" (aka Coffee Lake Refresh) later this year; while the enterprise segment gets the 14 nm "Cascade Lake." To its credit, Cascade Lake introduces a few major platform innovations, such as support for Optane Persistent Memory, silicon-level hardening against recent security vulnerabilities, and Deep Learning Boost, which is hardware-accelerated neural net building/training, and the introduction of VNNI (Variable Length Neural Network Instructions). "Cascade Lake" makes its debut towards the end of 2018. It will be succeeded in 2019 by Ice Lake the new "Cooper Lake" architecture.

"Cooper Lake" is a refresh of "Cascade Lake," and a stopgap in Intel's saga of getting 10 nm right, so it could build "Ice Lake" on it. It will be built on the final (hopefully) iteration of the 14 nm node. It will share its platform with "Cascade Lake," and so Optane Persistent Memory support carriers over. What's changed is the Deep Learning Boost feature-set, which will be augmented with a few new instructions, including BFLOAT16 (a possible half-precision floating point instruction). Intel could also be presented with the opportunity to crank up clock speeds across the board.

Intel Stuck with 14nm Processors Till Holiday 2019

Wrap your head around this: at some point in 2019, AMD will be selling 7 nm processors while Intel sells 14 nm processors. That how grim Intel's 10 nanometer silicon fabrication process development is looking. In the Q&A session of its Q2-2018 Earnings Call, Intel stated that the first products based on its 10 nm process will arrive only by Holiday 2019, making 14 nm micro-architectures hold the fort for not just the rest of 2018, but also most of 2019. In the client-segment, Intel is on the verge of launching its 9th generation Core "Whiskey Lake" processor family, its 5th micro-architecture on the 14 nm node after "Broadwell," "Skylake," "Kaby Lake," and "Coffee Lake."

It's likely that "Whiskey Lake" will take Intel into 2019 after the company establishes performance leadership over 12 nm AMD "Pinnacle Ridge" with a new round of core-count increases. Intel is also squeezing out competitiveness in its HEDT segment by launching new 20-core and 22-core LGA2066 processors; and a new platform with up to 28 cores and broader memory interface. AMD, meanwhile, hopes to have the first 7 nm EPYC processors out by late-2018. Client-segment products based on its architecture, however, will follow the roll-out of these enterprise parts. We could see a point in 2019 when AMD launches its 7 nm 3rd generation Ryzen processors in the absence of competing 10 nm Core processors from Intel. Posted below is an Intel slide from 2013, when the company was expecting 10 nm rollout by 2015. That's how much its plans have derailed.

Baidu Unveils 'Kunlun' High-Performance AI Chip

Baidu Inc. today announced Kunlun, China's first cloud-to-edge AI chip, built to accommodate high performance requirements of a wide variety of AI scenarios. The announcement includes training chip "818-300"and inference chip "818-100". Kunlun can be applied to both cloud and edge scenarios, such as data centers, public clouds and autonomous vehicles.

Kunlun is a high-performance and cost-effective solution for the high processing demands of AI. It leverages Baidu's AI ecosystem, which includes AI scenarios like search ranking and deep learning frameworks like PaddlePaddle. Baidu's years of experience in optimizing the performance of these AI services and frameworks afforded the company the expertise required to build a world class AI chip.

AMD Announces New Radeon Embedded GPUs

AMD today announced the AMD Embedded Radeon E9170 Series graphics processing unit (GPU). The new processor is the first "Polaris" architecture-based AMD Embedded discrete GPU available in multi-chip module (MCM) format with integrated memory for smaller, power-efficient custom designs, as well as PCI Express and MXM formats for standard form factor systems. The E9170 Series GPU is ideal for devices that require premium graphics and expanded display capabilities while meeting exacting power and thermal efficiency demands. AMD is extending its core graphics technology, delivering crystal clear resolution and a stunning and seamless 4K experience across multiple displays to a growing number of markets, including digital casino games, thin clients, medical displays, retail and digital signage, and industrial systems.

The AMD Embedded Radeon E9173 GPU, based on the "Polaris" architecture, leverages an optimized 14nm FinFET manufacturing process to provide up to 3X the performance-per-watt over previous generations of AMD Embedded GPUsi. By offering sub-40W TDP in a small package, AMD enables a broader range of products, adding a new level of scalability to the AMD Radeon Power-Efficient Embedded GPU portfolio. With support for up to five simultaneous 4K displaysii, the E9170 Series GPU virtually eliminates the need for additional processors and duplicate hardware to create an immersive multimedia environment. Additionally, the option to select from MCM, MXM and PCI Express modules increases design flexibility while minimizing complexity.

GIGABYTE Introduces Z370 Motherboards for 8th Gen Core

GIGABYTE TECHNOLOGY Co. Ltd, a leading manufacturer of motherboards and graphics cards, has unveiled the new GIGABYTE Z370 AORUS motherboards based on the Intel Z370 chipset. These supercharged motherboards are equipped with a server-grade digital power design which fully support 8th generation Intel Core processors. Performance tuned, the Z370 AORUS Motherboards are compatible with memory modules rated for 4133MHz. With unique features like an ESS Sabre DAC, Smart Fan 5 and RGB Fusion, there's no doubt why gamers turn to AORUS for the ultimate gaming motherboard.

"Following Intel's release of the Z370 chipset platform, GIGABYTE has designed a new, groundbreaking motherboard," said Vincent Liu, Senior Associate Vice President of GIGABYTE's Motherboard Business Unit. "GIGABYTE Z370 AORUS motherboards are designed for gamers who value powerful, yet highly durable motherboards. With our new digital power design, not only will Z370 AORUS motherboards unleash the power of the 8th generation Intel Core processors' they will easily fulfill gamers' demands."

QNAP Announces TS-x53B Series NAS

QNAP Systems, Inc. today launched the TS-x53B series NAS (available in 2-bay, 4-bay and 6-bay models) with a PCIe expansion slot to meet the growing performance and functional demands from SMB and SOHO users. "The TS-x53B is the first NAS in its class to provide PCIe expansion, which provides fantastic long-term potential for the NAS to be upgraded to include features such as SSD caching and 10GbE connectivity," said Jason Hsu, Product Manager of QNAP. "For users who seek high productivity and smart workflows, the TS-x53B series offers a compelling choice in big features," Hsu added.

Powered by the 14 nm Intel Celeron J3455 quad-core 1.5GHz processor (burst up to 2.3GHz), dual-channel 4GB/8GB DDR3L RAM (upgradable to 8GB), SATA 6Gb/s drive support with integrated dual Gigabit LAN ports, the TS-x53B series delivers up to 224 MB/s read and write speeds while also maintaining the same outstanding performance with AES-NI accelerated encryption.

AMD Ryzen Die Shot and New Architecture Details Revealed at ISSCC

At the International Solid-State Circuits Conference held earlier this month, some solid information has come to surface on a subject near and dear to many enthusiast hearts right now: AMD's upcoming Ryzen CPU line.

As far as credibility, the information comes in fairly convincing form. AMD's claims are backed with die shots of actual AMD Ryzen cores and further supported by more shots of their CCX (core complex) modules. From these shots, we can guess at several things, and further more see evidence for several of their claims.

Intel Announces the Xeon E7-8894 v4 Processor

Intel today extended the performance capabilities of the Intel Xeon processor E7-8800 v4 product family with the addition of a high-performance SKU in the processor family's Advanced SKU stack. The new SKU delivers the processor family's highest performance to handle the most demanding, mission-critical enterprise workloads. Businesses can use Intel Xeon processor E7-8894 v4-based servers to derive faster insights from the unprecedented amount of data being generated to create new services and improve customer experiences.

The Intel Xeon processor E7-8894 v4 combines high memory capacity and compute performance to deliver quicker results and improved productivity. The processor is targeted at scale-up workloads such as large databases, enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), online transaction processing (OLT) and in-memory analytics. The ability to scale-up allows more resources (more sockets and more memory) to be added to a single node image.

Samsung Details New Foundry Offerings at 14nm (LPU) and 10nm (LPU)

In an announcement that's sure to stir the foundry gods, Samsung Electronics, a world leader in advanced semiconductor technology, announced today that it is expanding its advanced foundry process technology offerings with the fourth-generation 14-nanometer (nm) process (14LPU) and the third-generation 10nm process (10LPU). The announcement comes as Samsung increases investment so as to meet the requirements of next generation products, ranging from mobile and consumer electronics (Snapdragon 830 and Samsung's own Exynos 8895 come to mind) to data centers and automotives.

Ben Suh, Senior Vice President of foundry marketing at Samsung Electronics, issued the following statement: "After we announced the industry's first 10nm mass production in mid-October, we have now also expanded our lineup with new foundry offerings, 14LPU and 10LPU. Samsung is very confident with our technology definitions that provide design advantages on an aggressive process with manufacturability considerations. We have received tremendous positive market feedback and are looking forward to expanding our leadership in the advanced process technology space."
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