The Oreganion in the US has quoted unnamed employees saying that Ann Kelleher, vice president responsible for manufacturing technology development, based in Hillsboro, Oregon, had notified them of the planned change to the way process nodes are described to “match the industry standard.”
It’s not clear when this will happen and Intel’s is currently designing chips that will likely be manufactured for it by foundry TSMC because of problems it has had introducing its own 10 and 7nm nodes.
The nanometer nomenclature was originally based on the length of the transistor gate but for many years has not really described the measurement of any particular IC attribute. Instead become a crude means of indicating how one generation of production is better than the previous one. It has also become somewhet company-specific.
Intel has spent many years trying to argue that its process nodes are equivalent to competitors’ manufacturing processes labelled with a smaller number. Intel now appears to be tiring of making the argument and under new CEO Pat Gelsinger wants to reset the debate.
“It’s widely acknowledged in the industry that there is inconsistency and confusion in nanometer nomenclature, and it does not reflect the latest innovations at the transistor level,” the Oregoinian quoted Intel spokeswoman Chelsea Hughes as saying.
Relabeling to get Intel down close to 3nm might be seen as artificial but it would help Gelsinger be seen as the new broom sweeping clean.
And after a decade of manufacturing delays and disappointments Intel may be seeking to turn over a new leaf. Foundry TSMC started manufacturing its 5nm manufacturing process in 2019 and is on track to start manufacturing on its 3nm node in 2022. These processes are used by Apple, Qualcomm, AMD and many others.
And TSMC’s superiority over Intel explains why Apple decided to replace Intel processors with ones of its own design manufactured by TSMC, a couple of years back.
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