Intel will start production of 7nm chips in 2021 and the first chips based on that process should also be released in that year. The company also gave more details about the arrival of 10nm processors and its Xe line of GPUs.
Intel is using euv machines for certain layers of its upcoming 7nm processors. These are successors to the machines based on immersion lithography. Intel still exclusively uses immersion lithography for its 10nm production. The company is therefore forced to apply self aligned quadruple patterning, a procedure with extra steps that makes chip production more expensive.
The 7nm chip offers twice the density of 10nm, a 15 percent increase in transistor performance and a 20 percent improvement in performance-per-watt. The 7nm production also uses a new generation of Foveros technology for stacking several chiplets together via an interposer.
In addition, there will be a new generation of emib, or embedded multi-die interconnect bridge, that connects components with interconnects in a single package. After 7nm in 2021, 7nm+ will follow in 2022 and 7nm++ in 2023. Intel wants to compete with TSMC’s 5nm process with its 7nm process. One of the first products on 7nm will be the general purpose GPU based on the Xe Graphics Architecture.
Intel also announced more about its 10nm plans. The first 10nm processors will appear this year and those are Ice Lake processors that will be released in June. Intel showed a die shot of an Ice Lake processor with four cores and a Gen 11 GPU. That GPU would perform twice as well as Whiskey Lake’s Gen 9.5 GPU. The Tiger Lake processor, which is also produced at 10nm, will appear next year. This one gets a Xe GPU, which would perform four times as well as Gen 9.5.
Intel reiterated that the 10nm delay was due to the aggressive 2.7X density scaling of its 10nm output. The company also announced that it will use cobalt interconnects and will deploy its Foveros and emib technologies. The 10nm node will have successors in the form of 10nm+ in 2020 and 10nm++ in 2021.
Intel provided the update on its roadmap at an investor meeting. Parts of the plans have already appeared in the form of roadmaps of the company that recently leaked.