Intel announces new Intel X naming for process nodes
Intel said on Monday that it has secured Qualcomm and Amazon Web Services as its customer for foundry services.
The world’s largest chip maker by revenue also revealed that it was planning to develop a 1-nanometer (nm) process by 2025.
Intel’s plan is aggressive and it is clear that the company intends to catch up to foundry powerhouses TSMC and Samsung as fast as possible.
Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger also shared a detailed roadmap of the IDM 2.0 plan he shared back in March.
The company is planning to call future process nodes “Intel X” rather than use numbers like 22nm (FinFET) or 10nm (SuperFin).
It will call its previous 7nm process Intel 4, while the chip giant was currently developing Intel 7, which will have 10% to 15% increased power efficiency compared to 10nm SuperFin, according to Intel.
Processes developed from 2024 onward will have the letter A attached at the end. A stands for angstrom, a sub-nanometer units of measurement. One angstrom equals 0.1nm. Process being developed for 2024 will be called Intel 20A, which is equal to 2nm.
The name change may seem subtle but is effectively a huge challenge against its rivals. Current use of nm doesn’t really represent the actual gate length.
Intel’s 10nm was considered of level quality to TSMC’s 7nm, for example, but the numerical designation caused confusion that Intel’s chip was inferior.
The company’s Intel 20A will launch in 2024. The company will apply its new processing technologies RibbonFET and PowerVia for the process node.
RibbonFET utilizes gate all around (GAA) transistors. GAA uses all of its surfaces as channels for electrical current instead of just using three surfaces in 3D structures like FinFET. PowerVia places the power circuit at the back of the wafer.
Intel is planning to develop Intel 18A in 2025. It will apply Gen 2 RibbonFET and High-NA EUV (extreme ultraviolet) technologies for the process. High-NA EUV increases the resolution of the lens used in EUV system.
An Intel Korea spokesperson said Intel was collaborating with ASML, the sole supplier EUV systems, to apply EUV in its wafer fabrication. Its advanced processing nodes shared on the roadmap were verified and have started development, they said.
Qualcomm is planning to use Intel 20A for its chips in 2024. Amazon Web Services will use Intel’s packaging solution.
The announcement of Qualcomm as a customer is the bigger news as the US chip firm uses both TSMC and Samsung as its foundry for smartphone application processors. The competition to retain Qualcomm as a customer will likely intensify between Intel, Samsung and TSMC going forward.