Intel ‘sincerely apologizes’ to customers for lingering CPU shortage

(Image credit: Intel)

Intel is still not producing enough 14-nanometer processors to meet demand, many of which are on our list of the best CPUs for gaming, and in a rare move, the company issued an apology to customers for coming up short. At the same time, Intel says it has "not yet resolved this challenge," so expect the shortage to continue.

"I’d like to acknowledge and sincerely apologize for the impact recent PC CPU shipment delays are having on your business and to thank you for your continued partnership," Michelle Johnston Holthaus, executive vice president and general manager of sales, marketing, and communications at Intel, wrote in an open letter.

Intel has struggled to meet demand for its 14nm processors for more than a year. At times, certain models have been either out of stock or selling at higher prices than they normally would. Intel's delay in bringing mass produced 10nm processors to market only exacerbated the issue, putting even more demand on its 14nm CPUs.

So, what's being done? Our friends at Tom's Hardware say they've heard from sources close to the matter that Intel is tapping third-party foundries to ease some of the pressure on its manufacturing. According to those sources, Intel is sending outside fabs products other than processors (such as chiplets) so that it can devote more of its own resources to cranking out CPUs.

Holthaus does not mention outsourcing in the letter, though she does say Intel has "invested record levels" into its 14nm wafer capacity while also ramping 10nm production.

"The added capacity allowed us to increase our second-half PC CPU supply by double digits compared with the first half of this year. However, sustained market growth in 2019 has outpaced our efforts and exceeded third-party forecasts. Supply remains extremely tight in our PC business where we are operating with limited inventory buffers," the letter states.

In other words, Intel expects to continue falling short of demand, though for how long is unclear. It also means we may not see as many Black Friday deals on Intel CPUs as usual, but that's often the case. AMD CPU deals, on the other hand, could be great if it's anything like past years.

The bright side for Intel is that this is not the worst problem in the world to have. Even with AMD hitting its stride with its Zen 2 architecture, and in particular its third-generation Ryzen processors, Intel is still seeing demand for its 14nm CPU outpace supply.

Looking longer term, however, this is something Intel will need to get a handle on, to stave off AMD's continued march into datacenters, businesses, and consumer PCs.

Paul Lilly

Paul has been playing PC games and raking his knuckles on computer hardware since the Commodore 64. He does not have any tattoos, but thinks it would be cool to get one that reads LOAD"*",8,1. In his off time, he rides motorcycles and wrestles alligators (only one of those is true).