The last few weeks have been a rocky ride for Intel and its CEO Pat Gelsinger. The company posted brutal year-end earnings that shocked the semiconductor industry. This resulted in Intel announcing it was cutting executive salaries and reducing incentives such as 401K matching for all employees. Gelsinger himself took a 25% pay cut as well. On top of that bad news avalanche came an even worse prediction from sources in Taiwan. A report from DigiTimes said Intel was delaying its TSMC order of 3nm tiles destined for its 15th generation Arrow Lake architecture. The delay would bump its arrival into 2025 and mark a major stumble for Intel. Now its CEO has rebuked those claims in no uncertain terms, saying they’re “patently false.”
Intel’s CEO made the comments in a Capital Allocation Update conference call this week with analysts. Tom’s Hardware captured highlights, including Intel saying it was slashing its quarterly dividend by two-thirds. This will allow the company to save up to $3 billion in 2023. On the call, Gelsinger also addressed the recent report about delays for Arrow Lake, the architecture that will come after Meteor Lake, which is due in 2023. Arrow Lake is scheduled to follow in 2024; the DigiTimes report said it was being pushed to 2025.
Intel will transition from monolithic to tile-based designs starting in 2023 with Meteor Lake. (Image: Intel)
“I am somewhat amazed by some of these rumor mill discussions that come out,” said Gelsinger. “You might notice there were similar ones on Intel 4 a few months ago and also with some of our other TSMC programs, which were patently false at the time as well.”
As someone who has written a dozen or so articles about rumored delays at Intel, this is the first time we can recall him commenting specifically. It’s possible this particular rumor was too egregious for him to stay quiet. It’s also possible he felt the need to get out in front of this one due to the recent maelstrom.
“The 3nm programs are on track, both with TSMC as well as our internal Intel 3 programs Granite Rapids and Sierra Forest in particular,” said Gelsinger. Intel 3 is a refined version of its Intel 4 architecture, formerly known as 5nm. This is also the first time we can recall Pat commenting on anything related to its relationship with TSMC. That partnership has also been the source of rumored delays as well.
For example, it was previously speculated Intel was dropping the TSMC 3nm iGPU tile from Meteor Lake. It was assumed the company would go with a 5nm part instead. With the news this week that Apple had purchased all of TSMC’s initial 3nm wafers, it’ll be interesting to see what ends up in Meteor Lake. It’s possible Intel could use the refined N3E version of TSMC’s 3nm node for Meteor Lake in late 2023. On this same call, Gelsinger affirmed Meteor Lake was still on schedule.
Gelsinger concluded by saying that Intel’s execution will put all the rumors to rest. “You know, these rumors, like many others, will be proven by our execution to be firmly false,” he said. As always, we will have to wait and see if that is true. Something tells your humble author we will be reexamining these comments in the not-too-distant future.
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