Intel is on track to regain the leadership in chip manufacturing, according to Ann Kelleher, the executive vice president of technology put in place to achieve that goal.
For many years Intel was the acknowledged leader in chip R&D and manufacturing, but the company started to lose its way a little over a decade ago and has now been overtaken by foundry suppliers TSMC and Samsung.
Pat Gelsinger was brought in as Intel CEO partly to reverse the trend and vowed to regain the leadership position.
“We’re completely on track,” Bloomberg and others reported Kelleher saying at a press briefing Monday in San Francisco. “We do quarterly milestones, and according to those milestones we’re ahead or on track,” she reportedly added.
Kelleher is trying to catch after Intel FinFET 10nm manufacturing processes was up to five years late in arriving. As a result, Intel has had to commit to use of TSMC as a foundry supplier so that its processor products can remain competitive with those of fabless chip companies such as AMD and Nvidia.
This disruption has also forced Gelsinger to increase the separation between manufacturing and product development and re-introduce Intel Foundry as a way to re-invigorate its manufacturing drive.
Meanwhile Kelleher is trying to make up for lost ground by developing and introducing successive future nodes at an unprecedented rate. Kelleher said Intel is more open to sharing the R&D burden with its chip equipment suppliers than in the past rather than trying to do everything itself.
“We might as well call it George”
Intel started the process by renaming its process nodes (see Intel renames manufacturing nodes, tips RibbonFET, PowerVia) so that 10nm super enhanced became 7nm. Intel is now manufacturing its Intel-7 process with plans to start Intel-4 production soon and Intel-3 production in 2H23.
Kelleher admitted that the nomenclature used for chip manufacturing process is arbitrary. “Seven measures nothing, we might as well call it ‘George,’” she said. What is more important is the relative performance and transistor density achievable on successive nodes and when compared with rival processes.
One review of the Intel-4 process agreed that Intel is catching up with TSMC and Samsung who are both due to introduce 2nm processes in 2024 or 2025 (see Intel catching up with TSMC?).