Intel Ramp Up More 14nm Chip Testing Resources



/ 2 months ago

Intel Confirms 9000-Series Coffee Lake S CPUs Coming Soon

Intel Points Finger at Testing Resources

Due to issues with the 10n process, Intel has been struggling with a 14nm shortage. In the past month or so, the shortages have gotten pretty bad. So far, reports have indicated that the shortages are due to lack of 14nm production capacity. In a new twist, a new report suggests that there is more than one bottleneck. The new document points the finger at testing capacity for new chips as well.

Previously, the wafer shortage was at the top of the list. Due to both chipsets and larger CPUs hitting 14nm, there simply wasn’t enough wafers to go around. However, the report suggests that testing new chips is also a problem. To help meet this new demand, the company is expanding 14nm chip testing to facilities in Vietnam. Under the Copy Exactly! program, the quality should be consistent with current facilities.

Shortage Expected to Last Into 2019

One reason why testing is such a problem is that chips are beyond just CPUs. While the CPUs like Coffee Lake and Whiskey Lake are bigger and take more wafer space, smaller chips have their own issues. For one, small chips like modems all need testing before shipping. With increased modem sales to Apple and chipsets as well, testing these many small chips can be very resource intensive. More chips due to 14nm density also mean more fine cutting and dicing of the wafer as well. Delays in 10nm also may mean Intel underresourced 14nm testing facilities to prepare for the still nascent 10nm.

Overall, the shortage is expected to drive down PC sales as Intel can’t keep up with demand. This is likely due to higher prices for units that do ship as well as inability to actually deliver. This may help drive down other prices like DRAM, NAND and GPUs as overall demand slows down. Analysts expect the shortage to continue until at least Q1 2019 if not further. In my view, with the Whiskey Lake launch expected to exacerbate the problem, it may be a while before prices settle down.

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