Intel claims its 10nm desktop CPUs will be launching “early next year”

Last month, we reported on several Intel rumors, most notably that the 10nm node will not be arriving to the desktop (something that has somewhat of a concensus). However, Intel strongly denied this rumor and affirmed to Tom’s Hardware that the CPUs were in fact coming to the desktop. Now, we have a launch window from an Intel Canada employee who spoke to IT World Canada about an early 2020 launch.

On October 29, Intel Canada Country Manager Denis Gaudreault made this claim to IT World Canada:

As I said this morning, we learned of the 10th-gen for mobile [processors], which is based on 10nm. So early next year, that’s where the desktop version of that will come.

So it would seem that 10nm CPUs are in fact coming, but the language here is very important to pay attention here. Gaudreault said “the desktop version of that” is coming, not “desktop CPUs.” It is a small distinction but it could mean the desktop version of 10nm mobile CPUs (which are quad cores) are coming to the desktop and not flagship CPUs with 8 or even 6 cores. This statement is certainly ambiguous by design so it’s hard to tell what exactly is meant here.

If the statement means mobile Ice Lake or Tiger Lake is coming to the desktop, it’s likely in the form of Intel’s new Ghost Canyon NUCs. Though few would consider a NUC to be a desktop, Intel could easily justify that it is a desktop platform since it has support for discrete graphics without using Thunderbolt 3. HEDT Ice Lake could also be what Intel is bringing to the desktop, but recent rumors pin Ice Lake arriving in the second half of 2020 so it’s unlikely this is what Intel is planning. Actual 10nm CPUs intended for the desktop is the least likely possibility since our sources tell us they do not exist; 10nm CPUs with 6, 8, or 10 cores have also not been seen in the wild.

Gaudreault also commented on 10nm and how redesigning 10nm to be less dense affected the delay:

When we’re planning 22nm, to 14nm, then more planning for the 10nm so the plan, I think we… went too aggressively on designing the density of the architectures… which add the complexity of it and that didn’t work that well. So we are to step back. And as you know, that takes months and years to do.

Though Intel is remaining firm on its plans to deliver 10nm desktop CPUs, the situation is still a little ambiguous since Intel has not promised that they would be delivering CPUs designed for the desktop, such as the 9900KS. Our sources have told us 10nm desktop CPUs are not coming, despite Intel’s denials; until Intel can show the public a CPU that is clearly for the desktop by design, it’s hard to not be skeptical.

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