Since Pat Gelsinger’s return as CEO in 2021, Intel has been very public about its future plans. Gelsinger has developed a strategy called IDM 2.0 that he hopes will return Intel to its former role as a global leader in silicon manufacturing. To achieve this, it has announced the parallel work of multiple advanced nodes in its various fabs. While the company recently launched a new facility in Oregon, CEO Gelsinger gave some unexpected good news about the progress of its most advanced node. He said the company’s flagship process, dubbed 18A, was a full six months ahead of schedule. The 18A node was originally due to arrive in 2025, but it has now been moved to the end of 2024.
The news is designed to calm critics who feel that the company cannot move to new nodes over time. As you may recall, it was suspended from 2015 to 2019 trying to go from 14nm to 10nm. It finally overcame its challenges and converted to 10nm on the desktop with Alder Lake, although Intel calls that process Intel 7.
As reported by Cnet, one analyst noted that Gelsinger must have the utmost confidence in the progress of the 18A to make an announcement about it early in his life cycle. Pete Gelsinger himself showed SRAM an 18A wafer at the company’s investors’ meeting in February as proof of its progress.
The 18A process is in the final stages of the “five nodes in four years” strategy that the company has adopted. The process began with Intel 7, which was used for its Alder Lake CPUs. It is effectively a 10nm node and will also be used for Raptor Lake. This is followed by Intel 4, which was earlier 7nm process. Its 2023 tile-based Meteor Lake CPUs will use this process. The next is the Intel 3, a refinement of the Intel 4. Beyond that, things really started to change. Intel’s 20A is the first chip in the company’s Ångström lineup, and introduces two new technologies: RibbonFET and PowerVia. This will mark the company’s official transition from FinFET, and we’ve written about these two technologies here. Finally, we come to 18A, which is a refinement of 20A. For now, it extends as far as Intel’s roadmap.
The announcement comes as Intel shuts down a new expansion of its D1x Fab in Hillsboro, OR. It named the facility at Gordon Moore Park in Ronler Acres. Gordon Moore is the co-founder of Intel and the author of the famous “Moore’s Law”, which he returned in 1965. As you may have guessed, he predicted that the number of transistors in an integrated circuit would double each. There has been a lot of talk over the last few years about when we’ll see the end of Moore’s law, especially now that companies are moving to chiplet-based designs.