Intel’s Technology Roadmap

Intel’s updated technology roadmap from 2021 to 2025 and beyond was released.

Intel goes to a sub-7 nanometer process in mid-2022. This is when Intel finally gets to EUV (Extreme Ultraviolet).
Intel used to be ahead in technology but they are now trying to catch up to TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor), AMD and Nvidia.

In 2022, TSMC will roll out its brand-new N3 manufacturing process, which will keep using FinFET transistors, but is expected to offer the whole package of PPA improvements.

Gate-all-around FETs (GAAFETs) are still a part of TSMC’s development roadmap. TSMC is expected to use a new kind of transistors with its ‘post-N3’ technology (presumably N2).

TSMC expects to break ground for the construction of its new ‘2nm’ production facility in early 2022.

This all goes down to execution. Intel has executed poorly for the past 5-10 years. Intel is planning to catch up around 2024-2025 if they can execute and if TSMC cannot accelerate or continue to have superior execution.

Intel is planning two breakthrough process technologies: RibbonFET, Intel’s first new transistor architecture in more than a decade, and PowerVia, an industry-first for backside power delivery.

Advanced 3D packaging innovations with Foveros Omni and Foveros Direct.

New node naming to create consistent framework, more accurate view of process nodes for customers and the industry as Intel enters the angstrom era of semiconductors.

Strong momentum for Intel Foundry Services (IFS) with first customer announcements.

It has new node names and the innovations enabling each node:

Intel 7 delivers an approximately 10% to 15% performance-per-watt increase versus Intel 10nm SuperFin, based on FinFET transistor optimizations. Intel 7 will be featured in products such as Alder Lake for client in 2021 and Sapphire Rapids for the data center, which is expected to be in production in the first quarter of 2022.

Intel 4 fully embraces EUV lithography to print incredibly small features using ultra-short wavelength light. With an approximately 20% performance-per-watt increase, along with area improvements, Intel 4 will be ready for production in the second half of 2022 for products shipping in 2023, including Meteor Lake for client and Granite Rapids for the data center.

Intel 3 leverages further FinFET optimizations and increased EUV to deliver an approximately 18% performance-per-watt increase over Intel 4, along with additional area improvements. Intel 3 will be ready to begin manufacturing products in the second half of 2023.

Intel 20A ushers in the angstrom era with two breakthrough technologies, RibbonFET and PowerVia. RibbonFET, Intel’s implementation of a gate-all-around transistor, will be the company’s first new transistor architecture since it pioneered FinFET in 2011. The technology delivers faster transistor switching speeds while achieving the same drive current as multiple fins in a smaller footprint. PowerVia is Intel’s unique industry-first implementation of backside power delivery, optimizing signal transmission by eliminating the need for power routing on the front side of the wafer. Intel 20A is expected to ramp in 2024. The company is also excited about the opportunity to partner with Qualcomm using its Intel 20A process technology.

2025 and Beyond: (18A) Beyond Intel 20A, Intel 18A is already in development for early 2025 with refinements to RibbonFET that will deliver another major jump in transistor performance. Intel is also working to define, build and deploy next-generation High NA EUV, and expects to receive the first production tool in the industry. Intel is partnering closely with ASML to assure the success of this industry breakthrough beyond the current generation of EUV.

Written by Brian Wang,

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