Intel denies Lunar Lake laptop chip delay but reports say Arrow Lake could actually go on sale first

Intel Lunar Lake
(Image credit: Intel)

Last week, reports emerged that Intel's Lunar Lake had been delayed. Now Intel has responded, claiming that the new mobile chip remains on schedule. Meanwhile, Intel's next desktop CPU, Arrow Lake, will reportedly go on sale in October. Could it actually beat Lunar Lake to market?

Speaking to Digitimes (via Benchlife), the chip giant said, "Intel's upcoming client processor (code-named Lunar Lake) has not been delayed. As disclosed earlier, Lunar Lake-based systems will start shipping in Q3 for the Holiday Season."

So, has Lunar Lake been delayed or not? Part of the confusion may relate to the distinction between shipping the chips themselves and the availability of fully built devices, in this case typically laptops, powered by Lunar Lake.

Obviously, Intel will begin shipping Lunar Lake chips to laptop makers some time before those final devices hit the shops or are sent to end users. Moreover, when Intel announced Lunar Lake at the recent Computex show, it didn't release full branding or a list of SKUs.

AMD very much did do that for its own new Strix Point chip for laptops and also that laptops with Strix point would be available from July. Broadly, it was pretty obvious that Lunar Lake would be available after Strix Point even if the precise date wasn't clear.

But vagueness from Intel is also playing a role in all this. For starters, Intel's statement, "systems will start shipping in Q3" leaves a little space for wiggle room. Q3 runs to the end of September. However, "shipping" systems isn't the same as actual retail availability.

Moreover, Intel's statement also said "for the Holiday Season". In other words, Intel is claiming laptops with the chips will begin shipping from manufacturers by the end of September with a view to retail availability in late November.

Actually, it isn't quite that simple. The Holiday season runs from late November into January, so that's a pretty broad window. November availability would be more in line with the "for the Holiday season" statement. But strictly speaking, availability in December or even early January would be within the Holiday season and allow Intel to claim it has hit its self-professed target.

AMD Strix Point APU chip, held in a hand, with the reflected light showing the various processing blocks in the chip die

Whatever happens with Intel's Lunar Lake and Arrow Lake, it seems certain that AMD's Strix Point AI APU will beat both of them to market. (Image credit: AMD)

And we can't help thinking that Intel chose "Holiday Season" instead of being more explicit by saying, for instance, October or November for that very reason—to allow a little additional wiggle room.

So, the consequence of Intel's vagueness is that it's hard to really say whether Lunar Lake is actually delayed. On the one hand, the character of the Lunar Lake announcement at Computex made it pretty clear that Lunar Lake wasn't imminent.

On the other, if you can't buy a Lunar Lake laptop until December, January or even later, it will become increasingly harder to accept that everything is going to the original plan. Indeed, in general Lunar Lake feels like something of a stopgap that's been accelerated into Intel's roadmap in order to give the company a chip that qualifies for Microsoft's new Copilot+ AI PC definition.

So how does Lunar lake's desktop sibling, Arrow Lake, fit in to all this? Benchlife claims that, "the K-series processors and Z890 chip motherboards in the desktop processor Arrow Lake-S are expected to go on sale in October. As for the non-K series processors and B860 and H810 chip motherboards, they will have to wait until CES. We won’t see it until 2025."

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It's not clear what the source of that information is. But if it's true, October availability could mean that you can actually buy an Arrow Lake desktop before a Lunar Lake laptop. And that's certainly not the impression we got from Intel at Computex, where everything was all about Lunar Lake and Arrow Lake was barely mentioned in passing with very few details revealed.

All of which ultimately means that Intel's plans for both Lunar Lake and Arrow Lake remain thoroughly unclear. Our hunch is that October is too early for Arrow Lake and it's more likely to go on sale right at the end of the year and will indeed be beaten to market slightly by Lunar Lake.

But we also wouldn't be surprised to see all of those dates slip a bit in practice, with Intel just managing to get one or two laptop models out in 2024 through a select brand like Asus, before true volume availability hits in early 2025 and likewise Arrow Lake will really be a 2025 product in terms of broad availability. Either way, we'll know soon enough. Watch this space.

Jeremy Laird
Hardware writer

Jeremy has been writing about technology and PCs since the 90nm Netburst era (Google it!) and enjoys nothing more than a serious dissertation on the finer points of monitor input lag and overshoot followed by a forensic examination of advanced lithography. Or maybe he just likes machines that go “ping!” He also has a thing for tennis and cars.