Intel Brews 6-Core, 14nm Coffee Lake Processors For 2018 Mainstream PCs

Intel shook things up when it announced that Kaby Lake would sit in between Skylake and Cannonlake, thus disrupting its tick-tock release cadence with a third generation processor family based on a 14nm manufacturing process. Now it appears that a fourth generation family of 14nm CPUs is on the roadmap, that being Coffee Lake, which will be behind Intel's first six-core processor for mainstream users.

If you want to own a six-core CPU from Intel right now, your best bet is to save up your funds and build a system around Broadwell-E or Haswell-E, both of which are aimed at enthusiasts. Intel hasn't increased the core count on its mainstream processors in several years, but according to the folks at PC Watch, that will change in 2018 when Intel serves up Coffee Lake.

Intel Core i7-5775c (Broadwell)

What does that mean for Cannonlake? Don't fret, at least for the moment it appears that Intel is on track with its transition to a 10nm manufacturing process, with Cannonlake still expected to replace Kaby Lake in the second half of 2017. The first Cannonlake products will target low-power systems with U-Series (15W TDP) and Y-Series (5W TPD) processors.

Getting lost in all these lakes? Here's a timeline of processor releases starting with Broadwell, Intel's first 14nm CPU:
  • 14nm Broadwell (2014)
  • 14nm Skylake (2015)
  • 14nm Kaby Lake (2016)
  • 10nm Cannonlake (2017)
  • 14nm Coffee Lake (2018)
There's some overlap with Cannonlake and Coffee Lake, and that's because the latter will target more powerful setups with up to six physical cores and up to a 45W TDP. Though Coffee Lake will be another 14nm release, it will be a highly optimized architecture, presumably with favorable yields (compared to Cannonlake).

We're speculating here, but yields could be the very reason Intel is releasing Coffee Lake. The alternatives would be to be stretch Kaby Lake's lifespan out to power the aforementioned higher end machines, or crank out six-core Cannonlake processors. However, Kaby Lake may begin to feel long in the tooth by the time 2018 rolls around, and getting good enough yields to crank out six-core Cannonlake processors right off the bat could be a challenge. If that's the case, Coffee Lake makes sense.