The storied chipmaker Intel
Dubbed "RibbonFET," the new architecture will mark Intel's first gate-all-around transistor and promises faster transistor switching speeds, greater computational density, and smaller sizes overall. The last time Intel updated its transistor architecture was back in 2011, then under the moniker FinFET.
All in all, the company previewed five new technologies it plans to roll out between now and the latter half of the decade. In another highlight, Intel detailed plans to use machines sourced from ASML Holdings
Intel disclosed yet another innovation for the industry in "PowerVia." This new technology will allow Intel to power its silicon from the back rather than the front, optimizing signal transmission.
"Building on Intel's unquestioned leadership in advanced packaging, we are accelerating our innovation roadmap," said Gelsinger in a press release. "We are leveraging our unparalleled pipeline of innovation to deliver technology advances from the transistor up to the system level."
Intel also announced changes to its branding strategy. Gone are the days where Intel sold chips like the "10nm Superfin," instead, the company plans to ditch any and all references to nanometers altogether. Intel argues this change will give its customers "a more accurate view of process nodes across the industry."
Intel 7 should launch as soon as this year and marks the second generation of Intel's 10nm architecture. Intel 4 and Intel 3 will mark the first use of the company's 7nm process and will fully leverage EUV to boost per-watt performance by 20% and 18%, respectively. Both Intel 4 and Intel 3 will carry the company's roadmap forward until 2024.
Intel won't use its new RibbonFET architecture or PowerVia until it launches Intel 20A, with the A meaning Ångstrom, a unit equal to roughly a tenth of a nanometer. By using both innovations, Intel expects that Intel 20A will deliver so much per-watt performance that it will usher in a whole new era of chip design, the "Ångstrom era." By 2025, after it launches Intel 18A, Intel expects to be fully restored to its place at the leading edge of the semiconductor industry.
However, Intel can afford few if any pit stops on its road to redemption. In the past, Intel's efforts to leapfrog over numerous technical hurdles resulted in delays. Delays that put the company a generation behind its competitors TSMC
In that regard, Intel's plans might be too ambitious. The company plans to catch up with the rest industry by 2024 and reassert its dominance just a year later, which seems altogether unlikely given the lead of its competitors.
However, David Kanter, an analyst at Real World Technologies, pointed out to Reuters the cautious nature of Intel's plans, and expects that hubris won't get the better of them this time around.
"Intel is absolutely going to catch up, and be ahead in some dimensions, with TSMC over the next few years," he said. "Intel really does have people who spend all their time looking at how to deploy new materials and technology to juice their performance."