(Bloomberg) — Intel Corp. shares fell as much as 2.8% after the world’s largest chipmaker said a new version of its Xeon server chip line will go into production later than promised.Shares of rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc. rose as much as 3.6% after Intel said Tuesday that a chip design, code-named Sapphire Rapids, will go into production in the first quarter of 2022 with the “ramp” beginning the following quarter. The company had previously said the new version of its most lucrative product line would be in production this year.Chief Executive Officer Pat Gelsinger has pledged to return Intel to a dominant position in computer processors and reassert the company’s once unassailable lead in semiconductor manufacturing after multiyear delays in the introduction of new technology forced it to cede leadership to rivals. Gelsinger, who promised the new chip would arrive this year as recently as April, last week replaced the head of Intel’s server chip unit in an executive shake up.“Given the breadth of enhancements in Sapphire Rapids, we are incorporating additional validation time prior to the production release, which will streamline the deployment process for our customers and partners,” Intel Vice President Lisa Spelman said in a post on the company’s website. “Based on this, we now expect Sapphire Rapids to be in production in the first quarter of 2022, with ramp beginning in the second quarter of 2022.”Given the delays to the 10-nanometer manufacturing process and holdups in bringing its replacement online, the latest announcement will cause concern about further decays in Intel’s competitive positioning, according to Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Stacy Rasgon.“A less charitable explanation, however, is that the company’s competitive positioning is worsening, and that the downside associated with delaying Sapphire Rapids (both for the products and, it should be said, for the stock) is perceived by management to be less that what would be experienced by launching earlier with a less competitive product,” he wrote in a note to clients. “Recent executive changes in the datacenter business may feed into this as well.”
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