In a mildly interesting bit of news for a Friday, Intel has notified its customers that it will use an additional assembly and test facility in a bid to improve supply of its latest desktop Coffee Lake processors. The new site has been certified equivalent for the said CPUs, so the finished products will be identical to those that are available today.

When Intel released its Core i7-8700K, Core i7-8700, Core i5-8600K, Core i5-8400, and other Coffee Lake products in early October, they could not meet demand and many stores did not have the higher-end models in stock at all. Today, the unlocked Core i7-8700K and i5-8600K are overpriced (compared to their MSRP) and not readily available at all times (with stock status changing several times a day), which means that their supply is not continuous and Intel cannot meet demand from all of its customers.

Basic Specifications of Intel Core i5/i7 Desktop CPUs
CPU Cores Freq.
L3 TDP PN Price
i7-8700K 6/12 3.7GHz 4.7GHz 12 MB 95W CM8068403358220
i7-8700 3.2GHz 4.6GHz 65W CM8068403358316
i5-8600K 6/6 3.6GHz 4.3GHz 9 MB 95W CM8068403358508
i5-8400 2.8GHz 4.0GHz 65W CM8068403358811
i3-8350K 4/4 4.0GHz N/A 8 MB 91W CM8068403376809
i3-8100 3.6GHz N/A 6 MB 65W CM8068403377308

To assemble and test Coffee Lake dies into actual Core i7/Core i5 processors, Intel has been using its primary assembly and test lines in Malaysia. Binning high-end CPUs is a challenging and time-consuming operation because far not all dies can hit required frequency and TDP. In general, the more silicon you bin, the more higher-end products you can get, but bandwidth of assembly and test lines is relatively limited.

To ensure a continuous supply of the popular six-core Core i7-8700K, Core i7-8700, Core i5-8600K, and Core i5-8400 processors, Intel will adding another assembly and test factory located in Chengdu, China. At least initially, the site will be used to assemble and test tray/OEM versions of the said CPUs. Intel’s assembly and test facilities are a part of Intel’s Copy Exactly! (CE!) program — all methodologies and process technologies they use across different production sites across the world are the same. As a result, performance, quality, reliability and other characteristics of CPUs produced, tested and assembled in different facilities are said to be equivalent.

Intel’s customers will begin to receive the aforementioned processors assembled in China starting from December 15. Since the factories in Malaysia will continue to be used, there will be Intel’s Core i7-8700K, Core i7-8700, Core i5-8600K, and Core i5-8400 CPUs assembled either in China or Malaysia going forward.

Intel has been working to improve yields of its chips produced using various versions of its 14 nm fabrication process for three years now, so unless there is an anomaly in Coffee Lake's design or the 14++ technology, yields of the CFL chips should be predictable. Besides, Intel uses its 14 nm manufacturing technologies in different fabs now, so processing more wafers is not an issue for the company. And while the bandwidth of assembly and test facilities is not usually an issue for CPUs, in the case of Coffee Lake this may be the case, if Intel's PCN is anything to go by.

Since Intel does not quantify how many Coffee Lake dies it processes now in Malaysia and how many dies are expected to be assembled and tested in China due to competitive and other reasons, it is impossible to tell how the addition of another site affects supply of its latest processors in general and their high-end versions in particular. A good news here is that Intel promises that with the addition of the Chinese assembly & test lines, supply of tray versions of the six-core Coffee Lake CPUs will be more continuous. As a result, supply and demand for boxed versions of the said chips will likely get more balanced too.

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Source: Intel

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  • HStewart - Friday, November 17, 2017 - link

    I mean Cannon Lake and Ice Lake (10nm) - I don't believe this site allows editing - or at least it not simple.
  • evancox10 - Friday, November 17, 2017 - link

    You may be waiting a while, the scuttlebutt is that Intel is having lots of issues with their 10nm process. And performance wise, the initial 10nm process is, according to Intel's own documentation, supposed to perform worse than 14++! The only benefit is the die shrink, allowing for lower production costs, IF yields pan out.
  • Mr Perfect - Friday, November 17, 2017 - link

    Has there been any word on the lower-end Coffee Lakes? Pentiums and Celerons? I'm hoping they'll suddenly get more interesting(aka get more threads).
  • Alexvrb - Friday, November 17, 2017 - link

    They already have 4 threads for the Pentiums. KBL Pentiums are 2C/4T. So the only way the Pentiums would get more interesting is if for CFL they bump the Pentiums to 4C/4T. Of course to protect the i3 lineup they would have to lower clocks and shrink the cache. The Celerons on the other hand should definitely be bumped up to 2C/4T.

    These kinds of moves would be wise ahead of a Ryzen APU launch next year. They have some time though.
  • Mr Perfect - Sunday, November 19, 2017 - link

    Yeah, I'm really hoping the Pentiums will be 4c4t. With the old Pentiums matching the old i3s at 2c4t, there's some hope. Four real cores for ~$80 would have plenty of appeal.
  • vailr - Friday, November 17, 2017 - link

    So: Malaysia and China are the final Coffee Lake CPU assembly points.
    But: exactly where are the 14 nm fab locations?
    I think there's one in Mesa, Arizona, no?
  • extide - Friday, November 17, 2017 - link

    3 in Oregon, 1 in Az, 1 in Ireland. Israel will be moving it's 22nm to 14nm soon/next.

    FWIW NO other company in the world has 5+ fabs on a leading edge tech.
  • watzupken - Saturday, November 18, 2017 - link

    It sounds great, but the cost of owning/maintaining these cutting edge fabs is very high. Therefore, Intel will be in trouble if there are too much idle fabs.
  • Ej24 - Sunday, November 19, 2017 - link

    The US government actually treats leading edge fabs as a matter of national security. Intel isn't allowed to open fabs with leading edge lithography in certain countries. I remember reading back during the 22nm days that Intel wasn't allowed to share or manufacture designs smaller than 45nm outside the US. Anything on the bleeding edge had to be fabbed here. Not sure if that's still the case.
  • serendip - Friday, November 17, 2017 - link

    Any idea where the dies are manufactured? It seems strange to bake the silicon in the US or wherever and then ship them to east Asia for testing, before shipping them back to the US for sale. Then again, most of those completed chips will go to China for assembly by ODMs into completed computers.

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