(Updated) Samsung Could Be The Reason Why Intel's 14nm Rocket Lake CPUs Take Flight

Intel Rocket
Update: After reporting on this rumor yesterday, we have since learned new information debunking Samsung's involvement with Rocket Lake production. Specifically, we have it on good authority from sources close to the matter, that Samsung will in fact NOT be manufacturing CPUs of any kind for Intel. We have posted a new article with additional information.

Original Article: Forget about Cannon Lake for a moment, and the troubles Intel has had in producing the 10-nanometer part, hence the multiple delays. That may end up a short-lived product as Intel looks to different 10nm chip architectures. That said, Intel is not finished squeezing its 14nm process node for all it is worth, and may enlist the help of Samsung to get future 14nm products out the door.

What exactly is Rocket Lake? It is getting a bit tough keeping track of Intel's various CPU codenames, architectures, models and so forth, especially since it scrapped the previous tick-tock schedule in favor of an increasingly loosey-goosey process-architecture-optimization development cycle. That said, Rocket Lake is another 14nm CPU architecture that, according to leaked roadmaps, is slated to arrive in 2020.

That is also the time frame for Intel's 10nm Tiger Lake product stack, so it will be interesting to see how they coexist. Information pertaining to Rocket Lake is rather scant, consisting mostly of leaked roadmaps and a spattering of rumors.

Where does Samsung come into play? It has been rumored before that Intel would tap Samsung to help with its 14nm production, and now again through a Korean-language report. According to SeDaily, Intel is commissioning Samsung to manufacture 14nm Rocket Lake parts to "resolve the severe supply of CPUs for PCs."

That quoted bit is a Google translated blurb. The report essentially references Intel's supply constraints, which we have seen with some currently shipping products. Tapping Samsung for Rocket Lake will help ensure that supply can keep up with demand next year, and presumably into 2021.

"We know that the contract negotiations with Intel, which was only rumored, are in the final stages," an official who is supposedly familiar with Intel's plans, is quoted as saying.

The apparent decision to enlist the help of Samsung rather than TSMC appears to be related to tensions between the US government and China. While the trade war does not stretch into Taiwan, Intel might be playing it extra safe, particularly with TSMC having a relationship with Huawei. It's also worth noting that TSMC is making chips for AMD, so that could be another reason that Intel may prefer to go with Samsung for this round.

Aggressive pricing is also mentioned in the report, which no doubt may have played a role in Intel's decision (if the report is accurate).