Intel 7, Intel 4, Intel 3, and Intel 20A: Understanding Intel’s New Nodes


Intel

Intel confirmed a change yesterday important in the nomenclature of your manufacturing processes. The truth is that, deep down, I was not caught off guard, it had been a long time since I felt the chip giant uncomfortable because of the unfair It turned out to compare their manufacturing processes directly with others that, although they seemed superior in numbering, were actually far behind.

To understand it better, we must remember what exactly it means to reduce the manufacturing node. When we go, for example, from a 10 nm node to a 7 nm node, the size of the transistors is reduced, which means that:

  • Logic gates they are thinner, and this increases the risk of electrical leaks. A chip with electrical leaks is normally defective, since the transistors will be unable to control their states (they will not be able to block the passage of current when necessary).
  • Using a smaller node reduces consumption, improves efficiency and allows integration a greater number of transistors on a chip without the chip having to increase in size. This is what is known as increasing the density of transistors per square millimeter. A processor with a higher number of transistors is normally More powerful than another with a smaller number of transistors.
  • The reduction of the manufacturing process translates into less impact of the chip on the wafer, which means that we will be able to obtain a greater number of 7nm process chips from a 300mm wafer than from 14nm chips, for example, since the latter are larger and consume more silicon.

On this subject I already talked to you in detail when we saw what a processor is, so I encourage you to take a look if you need more information.

As we can see, reducing the manufacturing process brings important advantages. But nevertheless, Is it fair to compare a node with another that, despite running at fewer nanometers, has a much lower transistor density? It’s a good question, and it’s what prompted Intel to adopt a new nomenclature.

A look at Intel’s new node nomenclature

In total, Intel has confirmed four new names to refer to its various manufacturing processes, and no, these no longer clearly indicate to how many nanometers it has been manufactured a certain processor. Thus, for example, that Alder Lake-S has been included in the Intel 7 series does not mean that it comes in the 7 nm process, and that Meteor Lake-S will be integrated in the Intel 4 series does not mean that it will be manufactured in 4 nm process.

I know what you are thinking, what do those nomenclatures mean then? Well, it is very simple, they refer to the fact that the processors are manufactured at an equivalent or higher node, by transistor density, which are used by TSMC. Don’t worry, it’s easy to understand, you just have to keep reading to find out:

  • Intel 7– Refers to the chip giant’s 10nm node which, by transistor density, outperforms TSMC’s 7nm node.
  • Intel 4– This refers to Intel’s 7nm node, which also outperforms TSMC’s 5nm node by transistor density.
  • Intel 3: in this case we have the 5 nm node from Intel, which should also exceed the transistor density of the 3 nm node from TSMC.
  • Intel 20A: This node is more mysterious, but the fact that it points to the first half of 2024 leads me to think that it will probably be Intel’s jump to the 3nm process.

With the script that we have left you just above these lines you should have no problem identifying, precisely, the manufacturing process of each Intel processor under this new nomenclature, but if you have any questions You can leave it in the comments and I will help you solve it.


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