Intel confirms using its 20A technology next year

Intel 20A:Additionally, Intel’s 18A process technology is expected to be fully developed by the end of 2024.

These days, not only Intel’s CEO is making promises to investors. At the Semicon Japan event, representatives from the Nikkei agency managed to interview Sanjay Natarajan, Intel’s Senior Vice President responsible for process development. It was from him that the promise to begin mass production using Intel 20A technology next year was heard.

Sanjay Natarajan

Intel itself plans to use this technology to produce Arrow Lake processors for the client segment. The rapid generation change, in contrast to Intel’s previous sluggishness, may seem incredible, but the current CEO set a goal two years ago for the company to develop five new process technologies in four years. That period is now past the halfway mark, and next year Intel is expected to start pilot production of Clearwater Forest, Lunar Lake, and Panther Lake processors. These will be manufactured using the even more advanced Intel 18A technology, with the Lunar Lake family scheduled for mass production before the end of 2024.

The Intel 20A technology represents a significant shift in Intel’s approach to semiconductor manufacturing, marking the transition from nanometer-scale process nodes to angstrom-scale classifications. Here’s a detailed overview:

  1. Transition to Angstrom Measurement: Intel 20A introduces a new metric for process nodes: the angstrom. This transition aims to clarify the measurement system and align with competitors, allowing for more gradual size reductions without using decimal places. Intel will officially leave nanometer-scale process nodes behind in favor of angstrom-scale nodes, starting with the 20A node in 2024.
  2. Technical Details: The 20A node is essentially equivalent to a 2nm process, where “20A” stands for 20 angstroms (with 10 angstroms per nanometer). However, by existing naming standards, it’s technically using a 5nm process. This change in naming convention is a part of Intel’s strategy to align its process names with industry standards and provide a clearer roadmap for future size reductions.
  3. Impact on Processor Performance: Generally, smaller node sizes lead to a greater density of transistors on a processor, which usually results in faster processors. The shift to a smaller process node, like the 20A, is expected to continue this trend. However, it’s important to note that the effectiveness of a process node also depends on other factors, such as the specific architecture and design of the semiconductor.
  4. Comparative Node Sizes and Performance: The naming conventions and process-node designs vary among manufacturers, making direct comparisons challenging. For example, Intel’s 10nm process node has a transistor density almost twice that of TSMC’s 10nm process node, despite having the same name. This variation highlights the complexity and diversity in semiconductor manufacturing technologies across different companies.
  5. Innovative Features: The 20A process will introduce multi-gate RibbonFET transistors, marking a significant advancement in transistor design. This new technology is expected to bring substantial improvements in efficiency and performance. The move to angstrom-scale measurements, starting with the 20A node, is seen as the beginning of a new era in process fabrication, where both the size and design of transistors will evolve significantly.

In summary, Intel’s 20A technology is a major development in semiconductor manufacturing, introducing a new measurement scale and advanced transistor designs. This technology aims to enhance processor performance and efficiency while aligning with industry standards and paving the way for future advancements in semiconductor technology.