The protracted shortage of Intel processors seriously affects the current retail prices of Coffee Lake chips. Some popular CPU models in our market have almost doubled in 2-3 weeks. News about the lack of production capacity of the manufacturer appeared regularly in the last few months, but relatively stable local prices for the CPU did not allow to assess the scale of the potential problem. The consequences were worse than could be expected. Let's look at the example of popular chips, what should be prepared for everyone who wants to buy a new Intel processor.
Celeron G4900 (2/2, 3.1 GHz) . The starting 2-nuclear model of the family Coffee Lake was a great help in those cases when it is necessary to get a basic system on the LGA1151 platform for the most simple tasks. Even before September 1, this chip could be bought for only $ 40, now the average cost of the CPU was fixed at $ 85 (+113%).
Pentium Gold G5400 (2/4, 3.7 GHz) . A very popular processor for office systems and universal desktops of entry level. However, the important price-performance ratio for the CPU of this class is no longer relevant to the strengths of this model. Recently, the cost of the Pentium Gold G5400 has increased from $ 65 to $ 105 (+62%).
Core i3-8100 (4/4; 3.6 GHz ) . By the time of launch, this model has become a real revelation. For the first time, Core i3 processors received 4 full-fledged cores, and the starting price of $ 117 attracted those who did not expect to spend more on buying a CPU of this class. Core i3-8100 is an excellent option for the basic gaming system. At least, it was so until recently. Since August, the average cost of this model has begun to increase. By early autumn, the price had risen to $ 135, but now this chip is already worth more than $ 200. Not so long ago for the same amount bundled with the processor could not get the worst motherboard.
Core i5-8400 (6/6; 2, 8 / 4.0 GHz) . The processors Core i5 of the family Coffee Lake received 6 computing cores, which became a real holiday for demanding but economical users. The younger model of the new line perfectly fits into the composition of the optimal game configuration, and for many other tasks it is a balanced option. However, if in the middle of summer this model could be bought for $ 190, then by the beginning of the academic year the cost increased to $ 220. However, such a smooth growth seems insignificant against the background of the current spasmodic increase in the price. For several days now the price tags for "the most affordable 6-core Intel" hold at $ 320.
Core i7-8700 (6/12; 3,2 / 4.6 GHz) . Alas, but the deficit has affected not only the chips of the initial and intermediate levels. Top models also increased significantly, although initially were not cheap. If in June / July a very successful Core i7-8700 could be bought for $ 320, then a smooth rise in price to $ 370 by the beginning of September was an alarm bell and the reason for choosing a powerful CPU to look towards the top model. Now the price of this model has increased to $ 450-470. In relative terms, the growth is lower even than in the younger models, but in the money of loss, they are very palpable for the wallet.
Core i7-8700K (6/12 3.7 / 4.7 GHz) . The flagship of the line of the Coffee Lake line was initially a pleasure not cheap, but if in the beginning of summer for the pleasure from the opportunity to overclock the 6-core Intel processor it was necessary to pay about $ 370, then by the fall the cost of the chip with the unlocked multiplier increased to $ 410. At the end of last week, the price tag Core i7-8700K was fixed at $ 500. Significant value, but in this case it does not please at all.
The price increase actually touched the entire line of 14-nanometer chips, not only Coffee Lake , but even the predecessors – Kaby Lake. Hardly anyone now will be attracted by the prospect of buying a dual-core Core i3-7100 for $ 190. More recently, for this money it was possible to get the same 6-core Core i5-8400.
Against the backdrop of price insanity, AMD processors are becoming more attractive for Intel chips. If there is no prejudice, then for a similar budget in different categories, now you can get a much more powerful CPU.
Why are Intel processors expensive?
Without exaggeration, one of the largest players in the semiconductor industry is experiencing serious problems with a shortage of production capacity. Recently, Intel has transferred many of its products to the rails of the 14-nanometer process technology. If the central processors have long been produced using this technology, now a number of other mass products have been transferred to these norms. What is it worth only switching to the 14 nm line of Intel 3xx chipsets used for all motherboards with the LGA1151-v2 connector. Also, the areas of multi-core Xeon server chips are increasing, requiring more silicon wafers and increasing the cost of manufacturing them.
One can also recall the preparations for the release of chips with the architecture of the Core 9th generation. If there is no desire to conduct a "paper announcement", then it is also necessary to allocate considerable production capacity.
Recall that Intel struggled for a long time and as a result received a very large order from Apple for wireless controllers for the new iPhone. Despite the fact that the modems themselves are relatively small, the number of necessary microcircuits potentially amounts to tens of millions. These chips are also manufactured using 14nm technology.
In addition, Intel is trying with varying success to establish a mass production of complex crystals at 10 nm. Re-commissioning requires very serious resources, obviously the re-equipment of lines also reduces the company's production capabilities.
For a combination of reasons, we have an acute shortage of almost the entire range of Coffee Lake processors. What happens to prices in such a case can be seen on the corresponding pages of hotline.ua. Of course, this is a global problem. Our market sooner even touched it later, but the reaction was more severe.
Intel certainly not only realizes the problem, but also tries to solve it. Obviously, structural changes and redistribution of existing production capacities are needed.
One of the forced and unpopular measures is the return of the Intel H310 base chipsets from the 14-to-22-nanometer process technology. For start-up PCH, this will be painless, because the functionality will remain at the same level, and changes in power consumption will be minimal. But this is just a drop in the ocean. There were speculations that Intel as a whole would outsource the production of chipsets to outsourcing, for example, Taiwanese TSMC, but the company has so far discarded this possibility, assuring that they will cope with the production of their chips.
Meanwhile, Intel clearly does not cope with the demand for 14 -non-chip chips. And this applies not only to desktop CPUs. A similar situation is observed in the segments of server and mobile solutions. Notebook manufacturers also lack processors, including the recently introduced Whiskey Lake chips and Amber Lake.
When will the old prices return?
It's very difficult to give forecasts here, because it's not about the problems with processor deliveries to a particular market, but about the difficulties of the manufacturer with the manufacture of the products themselves. According to preliminary estimates by analytical agencies, Intel will be able to fully meet the existing demand for 14-nanometer chips only in the second quarter of 2019. In this case, it is definitely not worth hoping for an early rollback of the cost of sharply increased prices for processors. Much depends on the sequence of steps of the manufacturer and the success of the launch of Intel Core 9th generation chips.
The created conditions are generally favorable for AMD, which can increase its influence in all key segments. According to analysts, before the end of this year, AMD can increase the share of its desktop processors to 30%, and in the server market, take about 5%. Against the backdrop of the deficit of Intel chips, large world system manufacturers willingly expand their assortment of their systems on the AMD platform. Fortunately, with the advent of processors on the architecture of Zen / Zen +, competitive solutions have appeared, though not all, but in many segments.