Intel races to defend US chip leadership from Asian rivals

Intel races to defend US chip leadership from Asian rivals

Chipmaker pins hopes on 10-nm chipset but is struggling to overcome delays

Intel has released a new line of laptop CPUs that it hopes will drive revenue growth into 2021, but the company is struggling to maintain its — and America’s — leadership in chip manufacturing against Asian rivals.

Intel is the biggest U.S. chip company by revenue and the only American microprocessor maker that still produces its own advanced designs domestically, but it has struggled with production issues and lengthy delays in recent years.

The company is set to release its latest chipset, code named Tiger Lake, on Wednesday. It will be Intel’s second central processing unit for notebook computers using its 10-nanometer process technology, the most advanced by a U.S. company.

Intel’s latest laptop CPU platform is faster and much more powerful in terms of computing and graphics processing than the latest offerings this year by smaller U.S. rivals Advanced Micro Devices and Nvidia, said Ksenia Chistyakova, product marketing engineer for AI and Media, at a news conference on Wednesday. 

Intel said customers will start to see its 10-nanometer chipsets in cloud servers and desktop PCs only toward the end of 2020 and 2021, respectively. These two applications, which both require powerful processing capabilities, are the foundations of the U.S. chip maker’s business.

But while the company is pinning high hopes on Tiger Lake, the fact remains that the company was supposed to introduce 10-nanometer chip technology in 2016. Issues with production quality led to multiple delays and even an yearslong, industry-wide shortage of CPUs for personal computers.

The launch of the new notebook processor, moreover, comes a month after Intel admitted it was facing another major delay in the next generation of its chipmaking technology. The company now aims to roll out its 7-nanometer process technology some time in 2022 to 2023.