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Intel Fixes 7nm, Meteor Lake and Granite Rapids Coming in 2023

Intel 10nm Wafer
(Image credit: Intel)

Intel's new CEO Pat Gelsinger made several big announcements about its 7nm tech at today's Intel Unleashed: Engineering the Future event, revealing that the company has solved the primary issues that have resulted in an untenable delay to its 7nm products. As a result, Intel will tape in its first 7nm compute chip for desktop PCs, Meteor Lake, in the second quarter of this year, with the first chips shipping to customers in 2023. Intel also divulged that it will also ship its 7nm Granite Rapids data center CPUs in 2023.

Intel says that 7nm's issues stemmed from difficulties with series of steps in its manufacturing process and that it has leaned more heavily on EUV manufacturing to rearchitect that series of steps and simplify the design flow. 

However, even though Intel has addressed the issues with its 7nm process and says that the majority of its products in 2023 will be produced in house, the delayed 7nm production schedule will leave the company in direct competition with chips built on more advanced nodes from competing foundries. As a result, Intel will also outsource the production of the CPU cores to TSMC for some of its key CPU models that will land in 2023. You can read more about that here

Intel hasn't shared the details about its CPUs that will feature outsourced cores, but the company did share that its Meteor Lake processors are built on the 7nm process and feature the company's Foveros design. This technology allows for die-on-die logic stacking to fabricate 3D processors, as we see with Intel's Lakefield chips

Meteor Lake chips are thought to come with a combination of Intel's Ocean Cove and Gracemont cores, meaning they'll follow the same hybrid arrangement found in Alder Lake, but in a 3D-stacked fashion. Early Linux hardware enablement code has already shown up for Meteor Lake, so it's clear that Intel is deep in the design process. 

The 3D-stacked design could allow Intel to either use its own 7nm cores or swap in cores based on a process node sourced from a third-party foundry, like TSMC or Samsung, but Intel hasn't shared any details about its outsourcing strategy yet. 

Intel's first 7nm server CPUs (Granite Rapids) will arrive in 2023, which is later than listed in earlier roadmaps that projected a launch in 2022, but on track with Intel's initial revised timeline. 

In either case, that timeline is concerning in the face of AMD's continued execution with its EPYC data center chips – AMD's roadmaps outline its 5nm Genoa processors coming to market before the end of 2022. That's the obvious rationale behind Intel also using an outsourced TSMC node for some of its data center products that will launch in 2023. Again, it's hard to tell if those outsourced chips will come as chiplets/tiles that merely snap into the same Granite Rapids package, or if they will come as entirely different new models.

Paul Alcorn

Paul Alcorn is the Deputy Managing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He writes news and reviews on CPUs, storage and enterprise hardware.

  • hotaru.hino
    ...the delayed production schedule will leave the company in direct competition with chips built on more advanced nodes from competing foundries.
    If we measure how advanced nodes are by transistor density, Intel's 10nm is actually better than TSMC and Samsung's first generation 7nm (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/7_nm_process#7_nm_process_nodes_and_process_offerings)

    Intel hopes to achieve ~237 MTr/mm^2 with their 7nm process (https://www.anandtech.com/show/13405/intel-10nm-cannon-lake-and-core-i3-8121u-deep-dive-review/3), which if they do, would blow away TSMC's current 5nm process at ~173MTr/mm^2. Of course two years will give TSMC to catch up, but still.

    So I wonder if Intel was simply biting off more than they could chew.
    Reply
  • mattkiss
    In either case, that timeline is concerning in the face of AMD's continued execution with its EPYC data center chips – AMD's roadmaps outline its 5nm Genoa processors coming to market before the end of 2022.

    I'm a little confused...the slides from the AMD roadmap article link show Zen 4 / 5nm cpus coming by the end of 2021, not 2022.
    Reply
  • rgd1101
    mattkiss said:
    I'm a little confused...the slides from the AMD roadmap article link show Zen 4 / 5nm cpus coming by the end of 2021, not 2022.
    which one? I see 2022
    there multiple roadmap. some zen3, some zen4
    Reply
  • KeyserTomassi
    What about the 7nm Meteor Lake for the H-series mobile CPUs? Should we expect those in 2023 as well?
    Reply
  • mattkiss
    rgd1101 said:
    which one? I see 2022
    there multiple roadmap. some zen3, some zen4

    Timelines are from left to right. A "2022" at the end doesn't mean the end of 2022, it means the end of 2021/beginning of 2022. Just look at the second slide down titled "CPU Roadmap." The last date is 2021, but Zen 3 came out it 2020.
    Reply
  • rgd1101
    there still more zen3 / zen3+ coming. the APU, Zen 3+

    and the road map is from AMD. might be an old one?
    Reply
  • Geef
    Your all wrong guys! ;)

    You forgot to calculate the multiple years from Intel's first announcement date of 10nm to actual production. You gotta add at minimum a few more years to make it better! :p
    Reply
  • escksu
    Yes, I have mentioned this numerous times to the AMD fans who keep thinking Intel 14nm is vastly inferior and keep laughing.....

    There is NOTHING stopping Intel from using TSMC too!! This means any advantage AMD has will be gone once Intel uses TSMC....
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    escksu said:
    There is NOTHING stopping Intel from using TSMC too!!
    Yes there is: available wafer starts.

    AMD, Apple and most other TSMC clients secured their wafer starts years ago and likely have priority dibs on most capacity that gets released by other clients. Intel as one of the newer clients should be near the end of queue for everything.
    Reply
  • dave.jeffers
    TSMCs goal is to TAKE high margin silicon production from Intel fabs, into its own. Intel MIGHT be making 7nm processors by 2023, at which time, AMD will be on 3nm with TSMC. TSMC has no interest in supporting Intel. TSMC has an interest in taking Intel's high-margin chip production, and they will use AMD as their weapon to accomplish this. Intel fabs could be re-tooled and managed with TSMC technology and know-how, but make no mistake-TSMCs goal is to bleed out Intel and take their high-margin chip production, and money. TSMC is not going to assist Intel in keeping Intel's margins and production intact. Their goal is to take production, market share, and money from Intel.
    Reply