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Intel may delay the release of Skylake generation processors

The company reportedly doesn't want to cannibalize sales of one generation of processor with another.

Intel is rumored to be delaying the release of Skylake, its next generation x86 microarchitecture planned for next year. The delay, while only one or two quarters at the most, would be the second following the delay of Broadwell, its shrink of the existing architecture.

Intel has taken it on the chin with the decline in PC sales but hasn't faltered on its tick/tock product release plans, although there were delays. Broadwell, the 14nm shrink of the Haswell architecture, was supposed to ship in Q1 of this year when it actually began shipping this quarter and that's in limited numbers. Intel attributed that to a manufacturing glitch, understandable when you are making transistors 14 nanometers in size.

Intel was supposed to ship Broadwell in volume starting early next year, and ship the first Skylake processors at the same time. This was unheard of, because Skylake was the replacement for Broadwell/Haswell. There has always been about a one-year gap between the tick/tock releases. To release Skylake at the same time as Broadwell, the processor generation Skylake was supposed to replace, made no sense and left people confused.

So a Skylake delay would be understandable, but it won't be a long delay. Taiwan-based DigiTimes says that instead of releasing Skylake in spring/summer, Intel will delay the release until the end of the third quarter or start of the fourth. DigiTimes Research, the market research arm of the DigiTimes tech publication, says the delay is purely a business decision so as not to have Skylake kill the sales of Broadwell-based laptops, which makes sense. I've noted DigiTimes's sketchy track record before, but if there was ever a case where they should be dialed in, it's this one, since so many OEM and ODM laptop vendors are in Taiwan and the Chinese mainland. DigiTimes Research goes on to predict the delay in Skylake may hurt Windows 10-based notebook sales because people will likely wait for it.

It's not hard to see that. You have a relatively minor processor refresh coming in the spring of 2015 and a whole new architecture 6-8 months later. And as DR notes, most enterprises are expected to finish their PC replacement by the end of 2014 due to Microsoft ending support for Windows XP.

It also says Microsoft will offer free upgrade to Windows 10 for existing Windows 8/8.1 notebooks, although few people tend to take Microsoft up on that offer. OS upgrades are a real pain, after all.

Let's assume DigiTimes is correct, that many large enterprises will complete their XP migration by the end of this year. They certainly won't be doing any upgrades any time soon, even though Windows 10 does look much more attractive than 8/8.1.The fact is you won't find an enterprise that wants to start a refresh cycle right after finishing one.

A lot of what has happened to Intel in recent years has been out of its control, but bumping up Skylake and Broadwell so closely was definitely its own doing. I'd almost say they should just skip Broadwell and just go to Skylake, but they have R&D money to make back.

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