Intel, which tends to brag about shrinking circuitry on its chips more quickly than competitors, disclosed Wednesday that for a second time it would miss a two-year schedule for making more compact chips. The Silicon Valley icon went further than projecting another one-time delay; it set a new definition of what people should expect in the future.
“The last two technology transitions have signaled that our cadence today is closer to two and a half years than two,” Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said during a conference call with analysts to discuss its second-quarter results.
This prompts the question: for vendors who design their CPU in-house (e.g., Apple, Samsung), does the slowdown in process (precision/size) improvement imply that their in-house team gives them greater advantage?
Meaning, will in-house CPU teams now be less focused on changes based on process size, and more focused on other ways to improve performance? Even so, presumably CPU makers will still release CPUs each year. Those, too, would include improvements (even though process size won’t improve every year). So perhaps the slow down in process improvement won’t increase or decrease any advantage that in-house-developed CPUs have. All this is simply my speculation; upcoming facts and others’ insights may change my understanding.
As always, though, in-house teams can focus on the areas that maximize their own products’ performance. In contrast, chip vendors have to consider a range of customers. This aspect of the in-house advantage won’t change.