Intel Delays Its Impossibly Small 'Broadwell' Chip

This holiday season, new PCs with Intel’s low-power, long-battery life Haswell chip will hit the shelves as promised. That’s good news for Intel and consumers alike.

But all eyes are on the next-generation chip, named Broadwell.

On Wednesday, as part of Intel’s earnings conference call, CEO Brian Krzanich said the Broadwell chip will be delayed. Technical challenges have put it about three months behind schedule, he said, reports Reuters’ Noel Randewich.

Broadwell uses a mind-bogglingly small architecture. Its transistors are only 14 nanometers (nm) thick. For perspective, a human red blood cell is about 6,000-8,000 nm. (Corrected, thanks to comments below.)

Shrinking transistors from 22nm to 14nm is a huge technical challenge because such tiny objects are influenced by quantum mechanics and operate with different physical properties, than larger-sized objects do.

Intel is investing billions in new factories to create state-of-the art fabs that can manufacture such small transisters. It promises it can shrink them even more, to 7nm.

The smaller the transistor, the more of them Intel can pack onto each chip. This makes chips more powerful while using less power or battery juice.

In September, Krzanich showed off a Windows 8 PC running Broadwell and promised that devices shipping with it will be coming in 2014.

Krzanich called the delay, “a small blip in the schedule,” but investors aren’t thrilled.

Although Intel beat expectations for its quarter, between this delay and a cautious outlook for the next quarter, the stock is down 2% in after hours trading.

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