Intel: a new architectural roadmap and a plan to reclaim the crown of the chip industry in 2025

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger announced in the Intel Accelerated webcast that Intel is rethinking how it releases and brands its semiconductor innovations, and the announcement outlines the next half-decade of its roadmap Intel processors, new chip and packaging technologies, and the promise of an "annual cadence of innovation with the ultimate goal of seeing Intel regain its processor leadership through 2025.  

Future Intel products (starting with early 12th-generation Alder Lake chips later this year) will no longer use the nanometer-based node label it and the rest of the chip industry have used for years, instead, So, Intel is debuting a new naming scheme that it says will provide a more accurate view of the process nodes across the industry and how Intel products fit into this landscape. 

How does that work in practice? 

This is that these new 3rd generation 10nm chips will be referred to as Intel 7, rather than getting some 10nm-based names (like last year's 10nm SuperFin chips). 

At first glance, it looks like a cheap marketing tactic designed to make Intel's upcoming 10nm chips look more competitive alongside AMD products, already on the 7nm TSMC node, or Apple's 5nm M1 chips, and while that's technically true, the comparison Not necessarily as unfair as it seems, in modern semiconductors, node names do not actually indicate the size of a transistor on a chip: thanks to advances such as 3D encapsulation techniques and the physical reality of semiconductor design, this has not been the case since 1997. 

From a technical perspective, Intel's 10nm chips are broadly on par with "7nm" devices from competitors like TSMC or Samsung, using similar production technologies and offering similar transistor densities, something that translates to commercial hardware as well: we've already seen Intel's current 10nm chips are still competitive with AMD's latest Ryzen chips, for example.

All of this means that the Intel renaming here isn't entirely unfair to see, even if it makes it hard to parse when the bigger node change progresses with the new renaming. 

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