Poor yield at Intel delays server processors, says TrendForce

Business news |
By Peter Clarke

The mass production of Intel’s Sapphire Rapids processors has been delayed due to low yields in the ‘Intel 7’ manufacturing process, according to market research firm TrendForce.

Sapphire Rapids is the codename for the next generation of Xeon server processors. Intel 7 is the rebranding of Intel’s 10nm manufacturing process. The renaming was done because Intel felt the transistor density was close to that achieved by processes dubbed 7nm by foundry suppliers.

Sapphire Rapids was first announced during the May 2019 Intel Investor Meeting. With a plan to succeed the Ice Lake processor in 2021.

Intel has had a series of problems with its 14nm, 10nm – and now Intel 7 – process (See Intel apologies for another supply shortfall and Intel goes foundry for 7nm due to yield issues).

Yield and delay

TrendForce said the production yield of Sapphire Rapids is estimated to be between 50 and 60 percent. As a result mass production is being put back from 4Q22 to 1H23.

Intel’s fabless processor rival Advanced Micro Devices will benefit with its x86 server CPU market share going from 15 percent in 2022 to 22 percent in 2023, TrendForce said.

AMD has other advantages in the server market, related to power consumption, availability of support chips and less reliance on Chinese sales which may now be curtailed under US sanctions, according to TrendForce. As a result AMD’s share of x86 server CPU shipments is estimated to reach 25 percent in 4Q23.

AMD made the decision to go fabless many years ago by spinning off Globalfoundries as a pure-play foundry. It also made the decision more recently to migrate its leading-edge production to TSMC. TSMC has an excellent record of process introduction and has attracted manufacturing contracts from Intel.

Manufacturing woes and the need for radical change were amongst the reasons Intel appointed Pat Gelsinger as CEO in 2021 (Intel’s incoming CEO tips ‘IDM-lite’ position). Gelsinger is in the process of splitting Intel into processor and foundry operations. A year before that Ann Kelleher had been promoted to try and get a grip on the Intel’s manufacturing problems (see Promotion for Kelleher in Intel technology shake up).

Related links and articles:

News articles:

Intel renames manufacturing nodes, tips RibbonFET, PowerVia

Intel apologies for another supply shortfall

Intel goes foundry for 7nm due to yield issues

Promotion for Kelleher in Intel technology shake up

Intel’s incoming CEO tips ‘IDM-lite’ position


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