Intel faces continued troubles with its foundries, and despite positive first quarter results, has been forced to further delay the volume 10nm manufacturing until 2019, whilst also floundering with regards to its modem production in 14nm. To present additional difficulties, Intel may be on the path to another CPU vulnerability disclosure, as the data security community are currently researching possible exploits including the original Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities.
Initially, Intel had intended that the 10nm technology would be introduced in 2015, and multiple delays have caused it to drop continually back, mainly due to some features in Intel’s 10nm process requiring around 6 multi-patterned steps, in contrast to merely 4 steps in competing foundries, Intel also eradicated its initial two architecture “Tick-Tock” strategy in 2016, in which there was a small architectural advance from the processors predecessor, dubbed a “Tick”, followed by a “Tock, or a more substantial update to an existing process. Since the change to a different architectural mechanism in conjunction with the 14nm process, Intel’s troubles have only increased dramatically.
As a consequence, Intel has lost the advantage in terms of technology it originally held over other companies in the semi-conductor industry, as its competitors begin to introduce volume manufacturing of competitive 7nm nodes, and therefore other companies are able to produce products of a similar quality.
The effect upon Apple is that there will be fewer major processor updates in the future, and a smaller disparity between performance of different, successive generations, this has resulted in the possibility that Apple may ditch Intel chips for the iMacs in favour of their own processors, a move that would be similar to when Apple abandoned PowerPC for its stagnated development and switched to Intel. In terms of tablets and smartphones, Apple is being restricted by its reliance upon Intel modems and Intel’s current troubles with manufacturing modems in large quantities using its own 14nm process.
Also, it has emerged that Intel may be facing another CPU vulnerability disclosure, as Data security teams research further vulnerabilities in the system, and Intel has issued a data security statement in anticipation of the possible disclosure. The scale of the exploits would seem to be similar to that of both the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities, it is expected that both AMD and ARM will suffer these vulnerabilities, although in the position of market leader Intel is likely to face the most scrutiny.