Intel Confirms 10nm Ice Lake Xeon Manufacturing Has Began

As a part of this week’s bulletins, Intel has confirmed to AnandTech that it has began manufacturing its subsequent technology server processors, referred to as Ice Lake 3rd Era Xeon Scalable. This information is considerably at odds with remarks made by the CEO Bob Swan, and in addition doesn’t match into the timeline of how Intel’s processor manufacturing normally works, and it seems to transcend easy terminology.

When an organization like Intel creates a brand new technology of server processor, both utilizing a brand new microarchitecture or course of node (or each), iterations and revisions of that server processor are made because the design is tweaked and optimized. All through the method, Intel’s largest prospects, notably the hyperscalers in at the moment’s setting, get early entry to this beta {hardware}. A part of the settlement to entry helps Intel debug and tune the design, in addition to a giant hefty order. All through this course of, the client will use the beta {hardware} to tune their very own software program platforms, and in some cases, transfer the product into deployment-level infrastructure. Be aware that because the product will get nearer launch, these key prospects could have hundreds upon hundreds of ‘engineering samples’ in numerous states of efficiency and usefulness. The road at which the client will get shipped ‘full retail’ models slightly that beta {hardware} is blurred, particularly as these prospects will usually maintain maintain of the engineering samples that work as anticipated.

So not solely is there this overlap, but in addition the important thing prospects that assist Intel on this regard get the primary production-ready models. As a rule, Intel will maintain again any formal public announcement of the product till the quota from the important thing prospects is met, after which Intel can promote it to the broader lots, referred to as ‘basic availability’. This lead time can fluctuate to as a lot as six months, the place in these six months these prospects are getting the most recent and biggest and the remainder of the world doesn’t know it’s prepared.

So that is the place we get into a mixture about actual engaged on when a product, particularly when evaluating ‘bulletins’ to ‘launches’ to ‘delivery for income’ to ‘basic availability’ or ‘ramping manufacturing’ (scaling up manufacturing to construct extra).

In our interview with CEO Bob Swan, additionally posted at the moment, he acknowledged that the Ice Lake Xeon Scalable product has been launched in 2020. That is information to us, as there was no formal announcement. Nonetheless what he is likely to be speaking about is that it ‘launched’ to these key prospects. In that sense, the product is delivery for income. Nonetheless, in the identical occasion, he additionally mentioned that Ice Lake Xeon Scalable was ramping up manufacturing in Intel’s 10nm services. This might recommend that whereas Intel has been producing the {hardware} for some time, it’s only now at some extent the place it feels snug including extra quantity to satisfy anticipated demand.

Nonetheless, within the official press launch from Intel at the moment, the corporate says that it’s ‘beginning manufacturing’ of Ice Lake Xeon Scalable, with ‘quantity ramp happening throughout Q1 2021’. This would appear to recommend that Intel solely simply beginning manufacturing of a completed model of the {hardware}, and that the product ramp continues to be to come back later within the quarter.

So both Ice Lake Xeon is launched, or it isn’t. It’s both in manufacturing, or it’s beginning to ramp, or it’s ramping, or manufacturing might be ramped as we transfer via Q1. No matter Intel is making an attempt to say right here, your guess is nearly as good as mine. I do know a few of my critics may name me out for not accepting what’s being mentioned at face worth, or declare that what Intel is saying is obvious. It’s a bit wishy-washy, and a few of it’s contradictory. I feel we might all hope that Intel could be exact in describing its subsequent technology of income producing data-center product.

With Intel’s end-of-year monetary disclosures in a few weeks, we’d get extra perception into Intel’s Ice Lake Xeon Scalable standing, together with a extra public launch someplace alongside the road, and discussions about Intel’s plans for its manufacturing past 10nm. If Ice Lake is certainly ‘launched’ in FY2020, that may imply Intel met a FY2020 goal, which is prone to be necessary to traders.

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