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Intel Has 5 nm Processors in Sight

By - Source: TechEye | B 125 comments

Every once in a while, Intel restores our confidence that Moore's Law is still alive and well.

According to the company, future production processes down to 5 nm are on the horizon and will most likely be reached without significant problems. Following the current 22 nm process, Intel's manufacturing cadence suggests that the first 14 nm products will arrive in late 2013, 10 nm in 2015, 7 nm in 2017, and 5 nm in 2019. A slight adjustment has been made to include different production processes for traditional processors and now SoCs. The company previously indicated that SoCs will be accelerated to catch up with the process applied to Intel's main processor products.

According to reports, Intel does not see any reason to believe that Moore's Law, which is really more an accepted guideline and observation rather an actual "law", will be breached by the company within 10 years, which indicates that Intel has visibility even beyond 5 nm. At this time, Intel has 14 nm in development, and 10 nm manufacturing in its research phase.

Also, Intel said that it is planning to move from 300 mm to 450 mm production wafers, but this switch is still about five years out. There was no information on the introduction of EUV lithography.

 

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  • 40 Hide
    math1337 , September 14, 2012 12:39 AM
    Remember when we were supposed to have 10 GHz processors?
  • 27 Hide
    gigabyter64 , September 14, 2012 12:52 AM
    If I remember correctly, wasn't Terminators based on 12nm chips, we are just about there!!
  • 27 Hide
    ben850 , September 14, 2012 12:29 AM
    LOL I'm still rocking a Phenom II x6 on my AM2+ setup.. Looks like my next upgrade could be an extremely huge leap in CPU technology :) 
Other Comments
  • 26 Hide
    DRosencraft , September 14, 2012 12:07 AM
    Should be very interesting to see how this turns out. That will be some impressive tech. Better start saving now and hope they're right about not hitting any roadblocks, although they probably have no real functional idea otherwise they'd just make the effort to go straight there. Nothing wrong with the step-by-step approach though. Wish them luck in overcoming Moore's Law.
  • 16 Hide
    edogawa , September 14, 2012 12:10 AM
    14nm processors in late 2013? Sweet, that's about the time I will upgrade from Sandy-Bridge.

    Glad to see Intel is moving forward without issues.
  • 22 Hide
    balister , September 14, 2012 12:19 AM
    Unfortuneately, Intel is about the hit the wall in how far they can go. 1 nm is pretty much the wall as that's about 5 atoms in width. Quantum effects start to take over once you get to that level and it is not as easily dealt with due to things like Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle and how the Strong and Weak forces start being a much bigger factor.
  • 27 Hide
    ben850 , September 14, 2012 12:29 AM
    LOL I'm still rocking a Phenom II x6 on my AM2+ setup.. Looks like my next upgrade could be an extremely huge leap in CPU technology :) 
  • 13 Hide
    sebooker , September 14, 2012 12:29 AM
    Just wondering....what kind of cooling is needed for a processor of those single-digit sizes?
  • -5 Hide
    buzznut , September 14, 2012 12:33 AM
    balisterUnfortuneately, Intel is about the hit the wall in how far they can go. 1 nm is pretty much the wall as that's about 5 atoms in width. Quantum effects start to take over once you get to that level and it is not as easily dealt with due to things like Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle and how the Strong and Weak forces start being a much bigger factor.

    Agreed, quantum computing is where I'd be investing my R&D right now. I think they will have problems before 2019.
  • 40 Hide
    math1337 , September 14, 2012 12:39 AM
    Remember when we were supposed to have 10 GHz processors?
  • 6 Hide
    blazorthon , September 14, 2012 12:40 AM
    Six to eight years from now is not really "in sight" in this industry. Anything and everything can change in less than half of that time as far as this information is concerned. Saying that this will happen by 2019 doesn't mean that it won't be delayed until around 2025 or something like that. I'm also not convinced that 14nm will even hit the market for Intel until 2014 given that it would mean that Intel has about a year to get both Haswell and the 14nm die shrink of it (Broadwell if I remember correctly) and the chances of Haswell having a full line-up by the end of 2013 aren't even looking very good given that Ivy only got CPUs from all families Celeron and up a few days ago.
  • 9 Hide
    TeraMedia , September 14, 2012 12:50 AM
    @balister:

    The problem is worse than that. If you consider that the typical doping level for an n-channel or a p-channel is on the order of 1:1000 atoms, then that means you need to actually have 1000 atoms for one of them to be doped (replacing Si with some other atom in the lattice). So a structure that is only 25 atoms wide by 25 atoms long is only 625 atoms per atomic layer. I remember reading somewhere that they need a minimum number of doped atoms for there to be any actual electrical effect, but I don't remember what that number was.
  • 27 Hide
    gigabyter64 , September 14, 2012 12:52 AM
    If I remember correctly, wasn't Terminators based on 12nm chips, we are just about there!!
  • 22 Hide
    GabZDK , September 14, 2012 12:57 AM
    gigabyter64If I remember correctly, wasn't Terminators based on 12nm chips, we are just about there!!


    Yeah well, we better start loonking for a John Connor, we have like 5 years from now
  • 14 Hide
    blazorthon , September 14, 2012 1:01 AM
    jkflipflop98Well good thing YOU were here to point that out!!! I'm sure none of the engineers and scientists at Intel have been poring over this exact problem for the last 10 years or so. Jesus P. Christ on a water buffalo I better got those dudes on the horn and share your revelation!


    There are these things called laws of physics and unless they are wrong, engineers have to deal with them. Getting to extremely small scales can change how things interact, especially concerning electrical properties. Engineers can't change how a material behaves in a given situation, so unless they make some sort of breakthrough, approaching sizes such as 5nm and lower can be significant problems for some things. For example, we've been working on space travel for over fifty years, yet we still don't (at least not officially) have light speed travel, let alone faster than light travel. Engineers aren't magic. If there is no solution to a problem or at least no solution that works with current technology, then they can't solve that problem, period. That's probably what balister was talking about, whether or not Intel has managed to overcome the difficulties involved in continuing to shrink the transistors and the distance between them.
  • -3 Hide
    Gulli , September 14, 2012 1:11 AM
    TeraMedia@balister:The problem is worse than that. If you consider that the typical doping level for an n-channel or a p-channel is on the order of 1:1000 atoms, then that means you need to actually have 1000 atoms for one of them to be doped (replacing Si with some other atom in the lattice). So a structure that is only 25 atoms wide by 25 atoms long is only 625 atoms per atomic layer. I remember reading somewhere that they need a minimum number of doped atoms for there to be any actual electrical effect, but I don't remember what that number was.


    They'll replace silicon with carbon at some point and then they can build 1nm transistors while at the same time drastically increasing clockspeeds. Then computer hardware will have reached a dead end (it will be many times faster than today's hardware however, probably fast enough to support the same level of intelligence as the human brain), unless quantum computing turns out to be feasible one day.
  • 0 Hide
    nforce4max , September 14, 2012 1:13 AM
    Well there have been functioning examples of single atom transistors since the 90s but never commercialized (hints at the tech that is still hidden in private and government labs) but 5nm is good. Can't wait for the tech to hit the market.
  • 11 Hide
    blazorthon , September 14, 2012 1:15 AM
    darkavenger123I am sure nobody in Intel has thought of this! You should go apply a job at Intel! I am sure they'll make you CEO!


    Thinking about something and actually being able to do anything about it with the technology are two very different things. Intel will probably have to use a different type of technology because even if Intel manages to use make transistors out of individual atoms and having them placed less than 1nm apart, they would be pretty much entirely incapable of going any further in this scale. Whether or not there are other things that can then be done instead of shrinking the scale is not what balister was talking about. Also, engineers generally aren't CEOs. That's why they're engineers instead of business men.
  • 9 Hide
    palladin9479 , September 14, 2012 1:23 AM
    This just has to do with the transistor width, not the actual size of the chip itself. To avoid some of the nastier QM effects they'll have to pad in extra space between the transistors, that will prevent the chips from getting "smaller" though they'll still use less power and run faster. At ~15nm is where QM starts effecting signaling integrity, ECC inside the CPU becomes an absolute necessity.
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