Intel used to release chips on a Tick-Tock schedule, which basically meant that every other chip would use a new manufacturing process. Since 2006 Intel moved from 65nm chips to 45nm, 32nm, 22nm, and 14nm chips in this fashion.
But things are different this time around. The company has already released 14nm Broadwell and Skylake chips, and Intel has one more 14nm chip planned. The upcoming Kaby Lake processors feature updated microarchitecture, but they’re still 14nm chips.
That means the first 10nm chips aren’t expected until 2017… and according to a new report, we’ll get three different chip families designed on that process as well. So it could be 2020 before we see 7nm chips from Intel.
The Motley Fool’s sources say Intel hopes to return to the Tick-Tock schedule by then, which means that 5nm chips could be available by 2020.
That doesn’t mean that we’ll have to wait years to see chips that offer better performance. Intel’s Skylake chips may be based on the same manufacturing process as Broadwell chips, for example, but they offer significantly more powerful graphics. Even a Tick, Tock, Tock schedule is better than Tick, Tock, nothing.
But the Motley Fool report also points out that Intel isn’t the only company working on smaller, more efficient chips designs… and that it’s possible TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing) could beat Intel to the punch by producing its first 10nm chips in late 206 and its first 7nm chips in early 2018.
In the meantime, it looks like here’s the unofficial rodmap for new Intel chips for the next few years (if the rumors are correct):
- 2016 – 14nm “Kaby Lake” (Tock)
- 2017 – 10nm “Cannonlake” (Tick)
- 2018 – 10nm “Icelake” (Tock)
- 2019 – 10nm “Tigerlake” (Tock)
- 2020 – 7nm TBD (Tick)
- 2021 – 7nm TBD (Tock)
- 2022 – 5nm TBD (Tick)