Intel’s ambitious plan to regain chip manufacturing leadership

Intel spent In the past few years, one mistake and another stumble, and even had to outsource the manufacturing of its latest chip to one of its biggest competitors.

Now, in order to regain its former glory, the company is betting that it can perform a series of tricky manufacturing changes. But it also hopes that the rebranding activities will convince people that it is not so far behind its competitors after all.

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger laid out a roadmap for several generations of chips at an event on Monday.It includes new technologies designed to help companies compete TSMC, A Taiwanese chip manufacturer that currently manufactures the most advanced and high-performance computers Bargaining chip, and also Samsung in Korea. The roadmap includes a timetable that allows executives and outsiders to measure Intel’s progress.

As an early sign of success, Intel said Qualcomm and Amazon Has agreed to become a customer of its new foundry business, Intel will manufacture chips for other companies; Intel said it will start manufacturing chips for these companies in 2024. Gelsinger has announced plans for its foundry business March, Shortly after he rejoined the company where he was the CTO. However, it is embarrassing that Intel also plans to outsource the manufacturing of its most advanced chips to TSMC.

Gelsinger said that Intel will adopt a new naming scheme for next-generation chips. Currently, chip manufacturers use nanoscale to refer to new chip manufacturing processes or “nodes.” Intel currently uses the so-called 10-nanometer process, while TSMC uses the so-called 5-nanometer process.

Nanoscale used to refer to the actual size of the transistor gate, which is constantly shrinking to ensure better performance. (A nanometer is one billionth of a meter; a human hair is 50,000 to 100,000 nanometers thick.) Gordon Moore, one of Intel’s founders, Famously said In 1965, progress in chip manufacturing was measured by the ability to shrink approximately twice as many transistors onto a chip every two years.

But the nanometer scale no longer refers to the actual distance on the chip. Intel and other companies said that the performance of its current chip is similar to that of TSMC’s 7-nanometer process. It plans to adopt a naming scheme that reflects this, and will launch a new 10-nanometer version called Intel 7 this year. The company said that the performance per watt will increase by 10% to 15%. The generations after 2023 and 2024 will be called Intel 4 and Intel 3. “

Gelsinger told Wired magazine before the announcement on Monday: “Where does the marketing end and where the project starts? This is always a question, but it has a very deep connection with engineering reality.”

Bernstein Research analyst Stacy Rasgon said that Gelsinger’s technology roadmap seems promising, but it will increase the company’s execution pressure. “It’s all good, but the danger is that they stretch their necks and then make a mistake again,” he said.

Intel made a series of mistakes under its previous leadership.The company’s failure to adapt to the shift to mobile computing resulted in the loss of its market share to arm, Which sets a blueprint for energy-saving chips used by companies including Apple, which use Arm-based chips on iPhones, iPads and some Macs.

The rise of Intel also caught Intel off guard artificial intelligence. NvidiaA “fabless” chip company used this trend to develop chips specifically for AI computing.Nvidia Beyond Intel Calculated based on the market value in July 2020.

In terms of manufacturing, Intel uses the latest method to etch features into silicon, that is, extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV) is slower than TSMC. On Monday, the company said it would increase the use of EUV and has obtained the first next-generation EUV machine from the Dutch company ASML, which is the only EUV machine manufacturer. The plan will be costly, as each EUV machine costs approximately US$120 million.

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