Published in PC Hardware

Broadwell will miss back-to-school spree

by on07 April 2014

No rush, 14nm can wait

Broadwell, Intel’s first 14nm architecture is coming later this year. In the meantime Intel will have other parts to play around with, so most notebooks shipped this year will still be based on Haswell and Bay Trail-M parts.

However, Broadwell won’t be ready in time for the back-to-school season. As The Motley Fool points out, Intel is planning to introduce the new architecture in late 2014, so it could be ready for the holiday season, but not for back-to-school. 

This might not be as bad as it sounds, as back-to-school isn’t what it used to be. Tablets and smartphones have disrupted the market and x86 update cycles are longer than ever. Intel’s own research indicates that the average PC is now more than four years old. Ultrabooks did not help and many consumers simply see no reason to upgrade their three or four year old notebooks. We can’t blame them, either. There is simply not a whole lot of progress to justify a pricey upgrade.

With all that in mind, back-to-school is not nearly as big of a deal that it was just a few years ago. It also explains why Broadwell is not coming to desktops anytime soon and why Intel decided to halt work on one of its 14nm fabs for the time being. Intel feels its lead is big enough and that it does not have to rush it. This is probably a good idea, since 14nm is a new node, so giving it a bit more time to mature will help increase yields once Intel fully commits to 14nm parts, especially high-performance desktop big cores.

In essence, we should see the first Broadwell products in time for the holiday season, but mass availability is probably coming a bit later, in early 2015. It’s a 2014 product on paper, but in reality shipments of Broadwell chips in 2014 will be negligible. So, if you needed another excuse not to upgrade your old notebook anytime soon, now you’ve got it.

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