Intel has been struggling to battle back a resurgent AMD in recent years as the aging 14nm lithography Intel has been using shows its limits. And it finally seems like they’re about to try and undo that damage by pushing harder into 10nm and beyond. It turns out that Intel 7nm may be on the way.
With a new CEO, Intel may be getting a renewed sense of purpose, or at least that’s the message for incoming CEO Pat Gelsinger. Gelsinger is replacing CEO Bob Swan who has been with the company for some time. Analysts were surprised by the move, though in its announcement, Intel claimed that the move was “unrelated to Intel’s 2020 financial performance.”
The future looks bright for Intel, even as it says goodbye to Swan.
“My goal over the past two years has been to position Intel for a new era of distributed intelligence, improving execution to strengthen our core CPU franchise and extending our reach to accelerate growth,” Swan said in a release. “With significant progress made across those priorities, we’re now at the right juncture to make this transition to the next leader of Intel.”
Intel has been on the back foot lately thanks in big part to the lagging push for 7nm. Intel has relied on 14nm processes at all levels in their semiconductor space for far too long. And it seems as they’ve finally cleared the log jam. According to the company, Intel’s 7nm process is fixed and on schedule for 2023 production. As for what form that will take, we already know, as the tech giant plans to release Meteor Lake in 2023. These new CPUs will renew the competition between Intel and its main rival AMD.
What’s the future looking like?
AMD has been banking on a price advantage and a lucrative partnership with TSMC to underpin its new CPU offerings. the Zen 3 processors have been flying off the shelves in such high numbers that even Zen 2 and Zen+ CPUs in much older product stacks have seen inflated pricing. This whole mess isn’t helped by US tariffs causing the market to bloat even more either.
That’s something that Intel has been largely able to avoid, although it remains to be seen if Meteor Lake can dodge the supply problems that new technologies often run into. Hopefully, we’re not somehow still suffering under the COVID-19 pandemic that has wrecked production potential and demand expectation these past months.
Intel has already made more strides into 10nm and given themselves room to breathe, but they’re still behind the 8-ball. AMD’s Zen 3 has been making huge waves.It is the successor to Zen 2 and uses TSMC’s 7 nm process for the chiplets and GlobalFoundries’s 14 nm process for the I/O die. That advantage in technology underpinning the chips has allowed for both competitive pricing and better clocks on the cores. Intel has a wealth of experience to draw on, but will it be enough? And will it be soon enough. the 10nm Alder Lake chips are expected to drop by the end of 2021. But they could potentially drop into a very crowded market as more and more AMD innovations keep getting teased.
The newly revealed Alder Lake and Rocket Lake CPUs could mark a resurgence of Intel to combat that growing AMD influence. The gulf between the two in terms of market share has massively reduced thanks to the strength of AMD’s Ryzen offerings. Though the biggest advantage that AMD had in pricing has evaporated. That change moving into the peak of Zen 3 has allowed Intel some room to maneuver.
The next few years will be very interesting, and a lot of it depends on how well Intel 7nm turns out. Huge IPC uplift will be a given, but depending on how much, AMD may have its own advantages tucked away. The battle looks like it will come down to how well the two product lines of red team’s Zen 3 and the blue team 7nm match up in efficiency. The stock problems AMD has had with keeping CPUs on store shelves have been indicative of both high demand and production slowdown. It may be that the key to dominance in the consumer CPU space comes down to who can produce the most cutting-edge chips the fastest.
Intel is currently teasing a variety of new features for their newest processors. Things like new Media encoding/decoding solutions may offer a major boost to prosumer and professional performance, especially when paired with powerful Nvidia GPUs. Another major improvement comes in the form of PCIe Gen 4 support, which also boasts increase PCIe lane counts on Intel platforms. The biggest shift is that the new baseline 8-core/16-thread configurations boast “double-digit IPC improvement” over the previous generations.
As for Intel 7nm CPUs and other product lines, expect to hear more about them after the new CEO comes into the position later this quarter.