Intel has ceased mass production of its final models based on the 14nm process, marking the close of a key chapter in the company's history. The second-generation Xeon Scalable servers, which made their first appearance in April 2019, have now come off the production line. Moving forward, Intel will produce only 10nm chips, while AMD, its main competitor, has pivoted towards the production of 5nm chips.

Farewell to an Old Production Process

Intel has officially retired the 14nm process technology that underpinned nearly a decade of its processor production. Tom's Hardware reports that Intel has discontinued the second-generation Xeon Scalable servers, belonging to the Cascade Lake family that was introduced in 2019. These were Intel's last mass-produced 14nm CPUs – their Rocket Lake desktop counterparts, which also used the same process, ended production in March 2023.

Intel has not provided comprehensive details explaining this decision or the abrupt discontinuation of the second-generation Xeon Scalable. However, it is likely that these processors have simply become outdated. Despite a surprising production lifespan, extending for almost five years, these processors were based on conventional 14nm technology. Intel has already transitioned to much more modern 10nm Xeon Scalable Sapphire Rapids chips, and competitor AMD is rapidly embracing 5nm standards.

The Xeon Scalable product line faced significant hurdles from its inception. Despite Intel's marketing efforts, AMD remained a thorn in its side. In 2019, AMD released the EPYC Rome server chips, boasting up to 64 cores and 128 threads, outshining the Xeon Scalable in terms of power and energy efficiency, owing to its 7nm process. Moreover, Intel's Xeon Scalable processors offered a maximum of 56 cores and 112 threads, at a higher price point.

Intel's Failed Lineup

The shock of Intel's decision to continue producing second-generation Xeon Scalable CPUs for almost five years is amplified by the lackluster customer reception. Consumers, seeing that AMD's offerings outmatched Intel in all aspects, including price, were not inclined to pay a premium for the Intel brand.

As early as January 2020, Intel announced a downsizing of its new server processor lineup, coupled with significant price cuts for remaining models. Numerous basic chips were culled due to a lackluster demand.

The 14nm process, introduced in 2014 with large-scale production commencing in Q1 2015, was exploited by Intel for almost nine years, despite having mastered the more modern 10nm standards in August 2019.

Intel currently leverages 10nm as its most advanced process, producing these chips in-house while AMD relies heavily on outsourcing chip production to the Taiwanese electronics giant TSMC, the global leader in this domain, which has already advanced to 3nm technology, and is on the cusp of launching 2nm.

However, Intel seemed reluctant to abandon the 14nm claims to fame due to its considerable contribution to the company's billions in revenue. In late 2020, former Intel CEO Robert Swan admitted that the 14nm process had long ago been recouped and was bringing in pure profit for Intel. For this reason, Intel hesitated to transition entirely to the 10nm process as it would require colossal investments – translating into expenditures for production modernization. As it turned out, the transition to the 10nm process from the initial launch took Intel more than four years.