Intel last week announced plans to start using an additional assembly and test facility to produce boxed versions of its six-core Core i5/i7 (Coffee Lake) processors. The addition of the new site in China will enable Intel to increase supply of its latest CPUs. Meanwhile, it is noteworthy that Intel has long solved problems with insufficient supply of its latest products (that plagued them early in the lifecycle) and right now the chips are usually sold below RCP (recommended customer price).

So far, Intel has been using its facilities in Malaysia and Vietnam to assembly and test its boxed six-core Coffee Lake processors that are sold primarily in retail. Last week the company said that starting from May 28, 2018, its customers would start to receive Core i7-8700K, Core i7-8700, Core i5-8600K, Core i5-8500, and Core i5-8400 CPUs assembled and tested in Chengdu, China. The company already uses this site to do the same operations to tray/OEM Coffee Lake processors. Meanwhile, since Intel’s assembly and test facilities are a part of the chipmaker's Copy Exactly! (CE!) program — all procedures and process technologies they use across various production sites across the world are identical. Therefore, performance, quality, reliability and other characteristics of CPUs produced, tested and assembled in different locations are said to be equivalent.

Adding another assembly and test site over half a year after the announcement of the products makes sense since Intel’s partners are rolling out new (and more affordable) motherboards for Coffee Lake CPUs and it is logical to expect demand for these processors to rise. In addition, recently the company expanded the lineup of its 8th Generation Core i5/i7 offerings for retail with models that come with Optane caching SSDs, making its products a bit more attractive. As a result, in order to avoid any potential bottlenecks in the supply chain Intel is adding a new facility to the list of factories that process the said CPUs.

It is noteworthy that by now Intel has resolved all the undersupply issues that plagued its higher-end Coffee Lake processors back in October. At present, the chips are readily available from leading retailers and in most cases are sold below their RCPs.

Basic Specifications of Intel Core i5/i7 Desktop CPUs
CPU Cores Freq.
L3 TDP PN RCP Retail
i7-8700K 6/12 3.7 GHz 4.7 GHz 12 MB 95W CM8068403358220
i7-8700 3.2 GHz 4.6 GHz 65W CM8068403358316
i5-8600K 6/6 3.6 GHz 4.3 GHz 9 MB 95W CM8068403358508
i5-8500 3 GHz 4.1 GHz 65W CM8068403362607
i5-8400 2.8 GHz 4 GHz CM8068403358811
i3-8350K 4/4 4.0 GHz N/A 8 MB 91W CM8068403376809
i3-8100 3.6 GHz N/A 6 MB 65W CM8068403377308
$117 $119

*Boxed version
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Source: Intel

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  • douglaswilliams - Wednesday, May 2, 2018 - link

    Clicked the article thinking Intel was testing “Boxed Coffee.” Maybe for a Keurig?

    The Copy Exactly! Program sounds like a good idea and reassures customers about quality regardless of country of manufacture/testing/boxing.
  • HStewart - Wednesday, May 2, 2018 - link

    Well since you are obviously joking around here, how about this one

    In this frame of reference it would be seen as a boxed drug.
  • basroil - Thursday, May 3, 2018 - link

    Working for a company that builds wafer handling equipment for Intel (and a dozen others), I can tell you CE! is both a joke and completely useless as a measure of QUALITY. CE! is there only for REPEATABILITY, and often times Intel (and others) will use the same broken hardware and software for decades (some of the stuff I work on and Intel uses was designed in the 90s), even though a new update was made years ago that would solve a lot of production issues and also improve throughput (i.e. more chips during rampup). Even worse, the entire philosophy of CE! is flawed, since you CANNOT expect things that work in one country/environment work in another. If they move a factory from a place with 15% humidity (i.e. Arizona) to one with 80% humidity, all their CE! goes out the door since now you need equipment to deal with that, and that equipment now changes how the plant works!
  • JoeyJoJo123 - Wednesday, May 2, 2018 - link

    Maybe I shouldn't wear a tinfoil hat about this stuff, but US agencies have been particularly wary about electronics produced in China for a while, since sometimes the manufacturing facilities can get secret government orders to implant snooping hardware into it. Not sure how effective that might be for a CPU, but we never had to consider this before when the CPUs were coming from Malaysia or Thailand before.

    Hopefully Intel keeps the manufacturing there under tight wraps and no hardware-level bugs are introduced.
  • HStewart - Wednesday, May 2, 2018 - link

    This is not a problem just for Intel - but most companies today - ideally it would be nice for them to move manufacturing back to the states.
  • basroil - Thursday, May 3, 2018 - link

    A lot of them already have huge commitments in the US. In fact, Global Foundaries is the single largest private (perhaps total) employer in Vermont, and their operations in several other states are larger than that! (I think anadtech guys got to go to the malta plant)
  • nevcairiel - Wednesday, May 2, 2018 - link

    I don't think they are actually fabbing the CPUs there, just assembling and packaging. Most of their fabs are still in the US. Their only chinese fab makes memory - 3DNAND and XPoint.

    Modifying a die after it has been made seems largely impossible, other then possibly lasering stuff off, but not adding spyware. :)
  • Ej24 - Wednesday, May 2, 2018 - link

    Intel is almost certainly not fabbing cpu's abroad. Congress put a moratorium on sharing any silicon manufacturing capabilities below certain feature sizes. During the haswell days the limit was 45nm. Once we reached 14nm I think the limit of sharing moved down to 28nm. Not sure what the limit is now or if the limit is still in place. Intel, AMD and any other US companies couldn't share Intellectual Property or hardware that would allow foreign countries to match or surpass our technology... National security and all...
  • catavalon21 - Thursday, May 3, 2018 - link

    nevcairel was correct, but did not say Intel did not have CPU fabs abroad, he said they don't have CPU fabs in China. Intel has CPU fabs in Ireland and Israel, but as nevcairel, MOST of them are in the States.
  • Alexvrb - Wednesday, May 2, 2018 - link

    I can't see it being a big deal for the assembly of CPUs since they don't fab them, but it's definitely a concern for other components. ESPECIALLY motherboards and the various chips on them.

    Even when there's no intentional backdoors, many manufacturers don't take security very seriously.

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