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Intel Moves To Retrofit Chips As They Struggle To Keep Up

Intel is struggling, now they have moved to retrofitting processors in an effort to keep up.

Overnight the Company revealed retrofit Intel processors for notebooks that are designed to overcome shortage problems and help prop up Intel as notebook brands desert the big processor Company.

Their latest PC processor is the Rocket Lake chips that deliver a 19% headline-rate gain over the last generation and introduce features that will help PCs keep pace with the latest gaming consoles the Company claims.

The move comes as rivals benefit from outsourcing production, leading to suggestions that Intel’s position as the leading CPU (central processing unit) provider is not as secure as it might appear with the Company still wanting to hold onto their processing plants.

Intel’s new Rocket Lake chips rely on 14 nanometre transistors and are made within its own fabrication plants. Intel is currently experiencing delays in making the next leap forward to 7nm.

By contrast, its chief competitor AMD uses a contract manufacturer – Taiwan’s TSMC – to build its latest Ryzen desktop PC chips, which benefit from smaller 7nm transistors and is being used by several of the major notebook brands.

The delays come as several big notebook and PC desktop brands move to new processor partners.

Apple is in the process of weaning itself off Intel to use its own designs, also produced by TSMC but using its even more advanced 5nm tech.

Intel claims its 14nm tech equates to TSMC’s 10nm. Even so, the US firm acknowledges it is running behind claims the BBC.

It had originally intended to make the transition to 10nm desktop chips between 2017 and 2019. As it is, this will not happen to a future generation launched in late 2021-2022.

Intel recently appointed a new chief executive – Pat Gelsinger – who has made it clear he intends to resist pressure from some investors to become a “fab-less” firm, a term used to refer to chip designers who do not operate fabrication plants of their own.

“The factory is the power and soul of an enterprise, and we must become even better in the future,” said Mr Gelsinger in January.

The Company claims that their benchmark tests indicate its new i9-11900K chip will deliver a boost of 14% more frames-per-second when playing Microsoft Flight Simulator over the last-generation i9-10900K, when set at high quality graphics, for example.

And Intel is also playing up other benefits, including support for PCie 4.0, which increases the bandwidth available to third-party components such as add-on graphics cards and solid-state drives, effectively allowing them to shunt data about more quickly.

Intel will be marketing the new chips as offering a 19% improvement in “instructions per cycle” over their predecessors.

But the site Anandtech said it had only noticed modest gains when testing some of the chips with games of its own choice, and in some cases said the differences were imperceptible.

“It trails behind its competitor AMD at times by a significant margin,” the site’s Dr Ian Cutress told the BBC.

One added consequence is that Intel is only offering Rocket Lake chips with a maximum of eight cores – the more cores you have the faster a program can run if optimised to share the load between them.

By contrast, AMD’s Ryzen chips go up to 16.

However, AMD’s newest processors remain in short supply.

One advantage Intel has as its own manufacturer, is that it can relatively easily adjust production to match demand.

By contrast, AMD must vie with Apple, Nvidia and others for TSMC’s capacity.

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