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Report Claims Intel 4 Is On Track (Updated)

Intel 4, Meteor Lake
(Image credit: Intel)

The Intel 4 node, previously known as the Intel 7nm technology node, is progressing nicely, says a report published today by Taiwan's DigiTimes (opens in new tab). According to the report, Intel 4 is on track to get ready for volume production in H2 2022, matching Intel's official stance that Intel 4 will be "manufacturing ready in 2H 2022."

About a month ago, at the 2022 IEEE VLSI Symposium, Intel was highly optimistic about its next significant semiconductor production node shrink. It said that ported chips could run at >20% faster at the same power or reduce power usage by ~40% at the same frequency. In addition, we learned that the Intel 4 node, Intel's first to use EUV lithography, would also double transistor density (vs. Intel 7) for high-performance libraries.

Today's report reminded us that Intel remains confident in the Intel 4 process, which is encouraging because it will serve as the heart of Meteor Lake (Intel's 14th gen Core processor for consumers).

As well as benefiting from the new Intel 4 process technology, Meteor Lake will be the firm's first chiplet-style processor for the mass market – the so-called flexible tiled architecture and Foveros 3D packaging tech. Intel's APU-toting rivals may also have a shot across the bows by Meteor Lake's following gen on-board graphics, which Intel says will be a product of another firm's N3 process (obviously TSMC). 

Of course, we are still waiting for Raptor Lake, Intel's 13th gen Core processor, to leap out of cover. Nonetheless, Raptor Lake looks a lot like 'filler' for the desktop market when you consider the potential of Meteor Lake and the entire product stack (from desktop to ultra-mobile) that may debut in the New Year. Those chips will face off with AMD's Ryzen 7000

The last little nugget from the DigiTimes report was that Intel 3 may go through its "manufacturing ramp" in H2 2023. Last month, Intel claimed that Intel 3 would deliver an 18% performance advantage over Intel 4.

Update 04/06/2022 10:50am PT: Clarified ramp details.

Mark Tyson
Mark Tyson

Mark Tyson is a Freelance News Writer at Tom's Hardware US. He enjoys covering the full breadth of PC tech; from business and semiconductor design to products approaching the edge of reason.

  • GeekyOne
    What is H2? 2nd half?
    Reply
  • dehjomz
    GeekyOne said:
    What is H2? 2nd half?

    Yes sometime between now and Dec 31, Intel will begin high volume manufacturing of products using intel 4. This is the previously named 7nm node that was delayed, and ultimately led to Pat Gelsinger, the chief architect of the mighty intel 486 returning to Intel again.

    It’s great to see Intel finally ramp its first EUV node.
    Reply
  • shady28
    I don't think of Raptor Lake as being an orphan. If you look into Intel 4 closely, that node is likely to be a one trick pony so to speak. Intel 7 is anything but, as Intel has essentially been on this node since late 2019 starting with Ice Lake and has done a massive shift of 14nm nodes to support Intel 7.

    Because much of Intel's production is on Intel 7 now, I expect many intel products - likely continued AL and Raptor Lake mobile / low power products and the lower end of their desktop line - will continue on Intel 7 for a couple of years. My guess is they won't move away from it en masse until 2024 when they go all in on Intel 3.

    As for Intel 4, SemiWiki did a great deep dive and had this to say about Intel 4 :

    "As we went through the details it became clear this process is targeted at Intel internal use to manufacture compute tiles, it is not a general use foundry process. "

    It's very clear that Intel 4 is going to have a relatively short life. Intel 3 is actually where their focus is at.

    "Intel 3 will offer both I/O fins and high-density cells as well as more EUV use and better transistors and interconnect. Intel 3 is designed to be an easy port from Intel 4. "

    For reference :


    Having said that, Intel 4 will be an important node due to EUV and its apparent advantages over TSMC N5.

    In fact, Intel 4 is likely where Intel will regain its process node advantage crown within the X86 space. Only Apple on the TSMC N3 node will have an advantage in 2023, assuming Intel can deliver on their Intel 4 node :

    These values are consistent with a 4 designation since it slots between N5 and N3 for the leading foundry company TSMC, although it is closer to TSMC N3 than TSMC N5. We also believe Intel 4 will have performance slightly better than TSMC N3.

    Source :
    https://semiwiki.com/semiconductor-manufacturers/intel/314047-intel-4-presented-at-vlsi/
    Reply
  • peachpuff
    GeekyOne said:
    What is H2? 2nd half?
    Second half of the decade...
    Reply
  • Lorien Silmaril
    yes let's all get excited before Intel even delivers anything! :)

    having trouble being optimistic about Intel's ability to deliver anything given their history this past decade. Pat laughably took all the credit for Alder Lake and claimed AMD is in the rearview mirror when he has nothing to do with the design and release of ADL. he comes across as a bombastic opportunist rather than an engineer who lets his work speak for itself.

    certainly great fit for the Intel culture though!
    Reply
  • SiliconFly
    Sorry to disappoint. Intel 4 Volume Ramp faster than everyone predicted. Perfectly in sync for meteor lake launch. And it's a lot better than TSMC N5 & N4. Actually comparable to TSMC N3 in performance. But the Intel 4 HP library power draw might be an issue. MTL might top out at 24 cores. Gotta wait & watch.

    2022: Raptor Lake takes the performance lead compared to AMD Zen 4 & Apple M2 (but loses in power efficiency to both).
    2023: Meteor Lake takes the performance crown. (Meteor lake on faster Intel 4, AMD on slower TSMC N5/N4, Apple on N3).
    2024: Intel moves up to Intel 20A which is superior to TSMC N3. Takes both performance & efficiency crown.
    2025: Intel 18A & the rest are still in old TSMC N3. What more to say?!
    2026: TSMC comes out with N2. By then, Intel moves to second iteration of 18A with even better characteristics.

    The future belongs to Intel.
    Reply
  • SiliconFly
    Oh pls. Intel has been in the game for 40+ years! Oh sorry, Intel has been the Market Leader for 40+ years!!

    They screw up for 2 to 3 yrs, and immediately everyone claims Intel doesn't know about fabs and semiconductors!!! Ridiculous.

    They're back with ADL. With RPL it's another minor win. But starting with MTL, there's no looking back. Pat knows it well & you might infer it as arrogance. Sorry AMD fanbois.
    Reply
  • jkflipflop98
    SiliconFly said:
    Oh pls. Intel has been in the game for 40+ years! Oh sorry, Intel has been the Market Leader for 40+ years!!

    They screw up for 2 to 3 yrs, and immediately everyone claims Intel doesn't know about fabs and semiconductors!!! Ridiculous.

    They're back with ADL. With RPL it's another minor win. But starting with MTL, there's no looking back. Pat knows it well & you might infer it as arrogance. Sorry AMD fanbois.

    I like this guy.
    Reply
  • TJ Hooker
    SiliconFly said:
    They screw up for 2 to 3 yrs, and immediately everyone claims Intel doesn't know about fabs and semiconductors!!! Ridiculous.
    Intel's issues and delays with new process nodes started with 14nm Broadwell back in 2013. So it's a little more than "2 to 3 yrs".
    Reply
  • JayNor
    Granite Rapids taped out on Intel-3, announced in q1 earnings call ... not Intel-4.
    Reply