Intel lays out its roadmap through 2025, renames its process nodes
Intel is a company that’s firing on all cylinders right now, as freshly minted CEO Pat Gelsinger aims to drive the company forward toward catching up in the (many) areas where it’s lost ground to competitors. Today, the company laid its cards on the table, showing off its roadmap through 2025, but also emphasizing its commitment to a predictable schedule. Indeed, we can all remember how Intel’s 10nm nodes were delayed for years, and now 7nm is delayed as well.
First of all, Intel is renaming its process nodes. That may sound like a small thing, but it’s the starting point for everything that the firm showed off today. Right now, the company is using 10nm SuperFin, and that’s obviously not going anywhere since that already exists. But Intel’s nodes will no longer be named after the size of the gates between transistors. Following 10nm SuperFin will be Intel 7, Intel 4, Intel 3, Intel 20A, and Intel 18A, in that order.
Intel 7 was previously known as Enhanced SuperFin, and that’s coming later this year. For consumers, it’s called Alder Lake for consumers, and for data centers, Sapphire Rapids. Intel says that there’s a 10%-15% improvement in thermal performance per watt.
Next up is Intel 4, and that’s where things start to get more interesting. This was previously known as 7nm, and it’s going to ship in the first half of 2023, with production beginning in 2022. For consumers, it’s called Meteor Lake, while data centers will get Granite Rapids. According to some slides that Intel showed, the GPU die on Meteor Lake can have up to 192 execution units, double what you’d get from a current Core i7-1185G7 with Iris Xe.
Next up is Intel 3, and that’s where things start to get a little more vague. For example, there’s no Lake or Rapids codename to go along with Intel 3. We do know that production begins in the second half of 2023, and it should get 18% better transistor performance per watt.
The excitement is all around Intel 20A though, and it will be introduced in the first half of 2024. Intel is promising an all-new transistor architecture called RibbonFet, and there’s a new backside power delivery network called PowerVia. The firm said that it’s going to bring us into what it called the angstrom era. And if you don’t know what an angstrom is, it’s the next unit of measurement below a nanometer. One angstrom is a tenth of a nanometer. By current industry standards, Intel 20A (yes, the A is for angstrom) is about 2nm, or 20 angstroms. Note that the name and the fact that it’s 20 angstroms is almost coincidental.
Finally, the company said that Intel 18A is going to arrive in early 2025. It didn’t expand on what to expect from Intel 18A for a number of reasons. The main reason, however, is that the firm has a renewed focus on meeting the deadlines that it meets for itself. And indeed, the deadlines that it set today are ambitious.