Things just seem to keep getting worse for Intel's Patty G. It all looked so promising when he took over, putting engineering first, with a focus on making sure it delivered on everything it said it would do. And yet the first discrete graphics cards of recent Intel history have still yet to really see the light of day, over a year on from when we first expected them, its server-side Sapphire Rapids chips have been delayed again, and now it looks like Meteor Lake is being pushed back once more.
Maybe Intel should just stop giving even a vague release window. Just do the Valve-time thing of 'when it's ready, it's ready, okay?'
Meteor Lake is the expected 14th Gen Core CPU generation, following on from this year's Raptor Lake update to Alder Lake. But far from being an incremental silicon update, Meteor Lake is due to be another radical change in Intel processor design. As well as using the new Intel 4 process—the name for its 7nm lithography—it will be Intel's first chiplet CPU.
It's also set to sport a vastly improved Arc GPU, what Raja Koduri has called 'a new class of graphics,' (opens in new tab) as part of its multi-chip package. And that's where the latest delay has come to light. Intel is using TSMC's 3nm process for the manufacturing of Meteor Lake's graphics component, as it uses TSMC for the rest of its GPU production, but a new TrendForce report (opens in new tab) (via Hardware.Info (opens in new tab)) is stating that it has now delayed mass production of the chip at TSMC to the end of 2023.
When Intel CEO, Pat Gelsinger, first introduced the new naming scheme for its future production processes, he spoke about Intel 4, introducing 7nm lithography for its 2023 products including Meteor Lake and Granite Rapids. It was going to start mass production this year, with a full release the following year. Then that was reportedly delayed until the start of 2023 and this latest news has mass production delayed even further.
That would indicate that an actual consumer release of Meteor Lake likely wouldn't happen until sometime in 2024. Potentially a year behind the original schedule.
Looks like it really was all too good to be true.
Best CPU for gaming (opens in new tab): The top chips from Intel and AMD
Best gaming motherboard (opens in new tab): The right boards
Best graphics card (opens in new tab): Your perfect pixel-pusher awaits
Best SSD for gaming (opens in new tab): Get into the game ahead of the rest
There's no indication of why the production schedule for the GPU component has been delayed again, but the original delay was reportedly due to product design and process verification issues. It probably wouldn't be beyond the realms of possibility that the complexity of creating a complicated chiplet design on a new process is causing issues within Intel.
Which is a shame, because as recently as June Intel had been making big promises for Meteor Lake, stating that it would be delivering 20% higher frequencies (opens in new tab) at the same power levels as the current Alder Lake design.
None of this is going to help consumer or investor confidence in Intel, which has again been shaken by recent poor financial performance (opens in new tab). Gelsinger was there to drive a focus on delivering, in the way that AMD has stuck consistently to its production schedule, delivering generations of Zen architectures on time, and with genuine improvements. That's not how it's been shaking out for dear ol' Patty G, however.