According to Intel CEO Patrick Gelsinger, it is understandable that the company will not cut costs to achieve strategic goals, even under difficult macroeconomic conditions. The release of chips based on Intel 18A technology by 2025 is one of them, but in general it’s moving towards a return to technology leadership either on schedule or ahead – new engineering processes and chips will be released on schedule.
As we remember, Intel committed itself to mastering five new technical processes for four years. As Patrick Gelsinger pointed out, the Intel 7 process technology is already being used for mass production of client and server processors. The last clarification is particularly important, because we remember that the release of the Sapphire Rapids family has been repeatedly delayed, but recently it still took place.
The company is also almost ready to release processors based on Intel 4 technology. In the second half of the year, mass production of processors from the Meteor Lake family, which will use this level of lithography, will begin. It’s important to remember that for the first time on Intel 4 and Intel 3 technologies, the company will begin using Ultra-Hard Ultraviolet (EUV) lithography. According to the head of Intel, it will be “an important step towards increasing the specific power of transistors in terms of watts of power consumed and transistor density”.
The company’s management did not say anything specific about the timing of starting the production of processors with Intel 3 technology, but noted that this technical process “showing excellent form and preparing to go live as planned”. Under the Intel 3 process technology, the company’s contract division will start releasing some self-developed components to one of the “cloud giants”.
As Gelsinger pointed out, the company’s labs are already running test chips made using Intel 20A and Intel 18A technologies, including a prototype product for a major contract business customer. It was previously reported that customers from the US defense industry are interested in similar technical processes from Intel. Production of such components will begin by 2025 at Ohio companies under construction. The advanced ASML high numerical aperture lithography equipment will also be used there.
The Intel CEO added that the company is in contract deals with 7 of the 10 largest chipmakers that do not have their own manufacturing facilities. 43 customers are already ready to commission the production of test chips from Intel, although the company publicly mentions MediaTek in this regard. In the coming weeks, Intel customers can receive the final version of the PDK toolkit to work on the development of products that will later be manufactured at the company’s facilities using Intel 18A process technology.
Having received qualifying samples of the Sapphire Rapids family of processors in the third quarter of last year, the company announced on January 10 this year the production of Xeon models of the corresponding series. To a certain extent, this allows us to assess the timing of the announcement of the Lunar Lake family of processors, since the head of Intel has hinted that in 2024 the company will only have technical samples of such chips. It was previously assumed that they would feature ultra-low power consumption and a TDP value of no more than 15W and would appear in the mobile segment after Meteor Lake and Arrow Lake. Lunar Lake’s digital projects are already finished, as the company boss explained. This family, he says, is optimized for ultra-low power consumption “enables our partners in the PC market to develop ultra-thin and light systems for mobile users”.
In the second half of this year, the release of not only Meteor Lake client processors, but also the Emerald Rapids server will begin. Samples of the latter are already being delivered to customers and function as part of test systems. If we return to the Sapphire Rapids family, Intel expects to ship one million units by the middle of this year. Next year their successors will appear given the Granite Rapids processors. At the same time, a specialized family of server processors Sierra Forrest, built on energy-efficient cores, will also appear. In the current quarter, Intel is dedicating a separate event to its plans and successes in the server segment.
Coming back to discussing Intel’s success in the contract direction, we can mention that it has an order portfolio totaling $4 billion, which management says will be replenished this year with new orders from major customers going to Intel interested are 16, Intel 3 and Intel 18A.