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Intel At Least 5 Years Behind TSMC and May Never Catch Up: Analyst

Intel's in-house sub-10 nanometer silicon fabrication dreams seem more distant by the day. Raymond James analyst Chris Caso, in an interview with CNBC stated that Intel's 10 nm process development could set the company back by at least 5 years behind TSMC. In its most recent financial results call, Intel revised its 10 nm outlook to reflect that the first 10 nm processors could only come out by the end of 2019. "Intel's biggest strategic problem is their delay on 10nm production - we don't expect a 10nm server chip from Intel for two years," analyst Chris Caso said in a note to clients Tuesday. "10nm delays create a window for competitors, and the window may never again close."

By that time, Intel will have missed several competitive milestones behind TSMC, which is in final stages of quantitatively rolling out its 7 nm process. Caso predicts that by the time Intel goes sub-10 nm (7 nm or something in that nanoscopic ballpark), TSMC and Samsung could each be readying their 5 nm or 3 nm process roll-outs. A Rosenblatt Securities report that came out late-August was even more gloomy about the situation at Intel foundry. It predicted that foundry delays could set the company back "5, 6, or even 7" years behind rivals. Intel is already beginning offload some of its 14 nm manufacturing to TSMC. Meanwhile, AMD is reportedly planning to entirely rely on TSMC to make its future generations of "Zen" processors.

AMD "Navi" GPU Architecture Successor Codenamed "Arcturus"?

Arcturus is the fourth brightest star in the night sky, and could be the a new GPU architecture by AMD succeeding "Navi," according to a Phoronix report. The codename of Navi-successor has long eluded AMD's roadmap slides. The name "Arcturis" surfaced on Phoronix community forums, from a post by an AMD Linux liaison who is a member there. The codename is also supported by the fact that AMD is naming its GPU architectures after the brightest stars in the sky (albeit in a descending order of their brightness). Polaris is the brightest, followed by Vega, Navi, and Arcturus.

AMD last referenced the Navi-successor on a roadmap slide during its 2017 Financial Analyst Day presentation by Mark Papermaster. That slide mentioned "Vega" to be built on two silicon fabrication processes, 14 nm and "14 nm+." We know now that AMD intends to build a better-endowed "Vega" chip on 7 nm, which could be the world's first 7 nm GPU. "Navi" is slated to be built on 7 nm as the process becomes more prevalent in the industry. The same slide mentions Navi-successor as being built on "7 nm+," which going by convention, could refer to an even more advanced process than 7 nm. Unfortunately, even in 2017, when the industry was a touch more optimistic about 7 nm, AMD expected the Navi-successor to only come out by 2020. We're not holding our breath.

Goldman Sachs Upgrades Stock Ratings for AMD, Downgrades Intel to "Sell"

Goldman Sachs, citing problems with Intel's 10 nm manufacturing process delivery - which was supposed to be available in the market for years now - has reduced the blue giant's stock rating. Previously at a "neutral" stance - already downgraded in the face of Intel's manufacturing woes - the stock is now at a "Sell" level. Even though Intel is still outperforming the S&P 500's 6.7 percent return with their (current) 8.6 percent this year through Thursday, the outlook isn't good for the company.
"We see Intel's struggles with 10 nm process technology having ramifications in terms of its competitive position - across a broad set of products. While the 10nm push is well-publicized at this point, we believe Intel's manufacturing issues could potentially be deeper-rooted than what most think and could have a sustained impact on market share and/or spending levels as Intel competes with a growing/stronger TSMC eco-system."

Goldman Sachs Analyst Toshiya Hari
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