During Intel’s Q1 earnings call, one of the primary points of focus was with respect to the improving 10nm yields and the upcoming 7nm process set to start risk production next year. The 10nm capacity is expected to overtake the much more mature 14nm node by the second half of 2021, with R&D for the 7nm process node already underway. This is the first major node transition for Intel since 2015 when Skylake was launched on the 14nm process.
In addition, the 7nm process will leverage EUV lithography, bringing it on par with TSMC’s 5nm (N5) process, albeit a couple of years later. The first processors based on the 7nm node (Meteor Lake) will land in 2023 with a chiplet design and multiple new core architectures. Intel CEO, Pat Gelsinger revealed during the press conference that there are over 50 potential customers interested in the company’s upcoming 7nm EUV node. He stated that the development of the node is progressing at a steady pace and is on track for mass production in late 2022/early 2023, leading to a 2023 release.
Currently, we are in contact with more than 50 potential customers. We are seeing the enthusiasm of some of the leading technology giants in the world of industry ranging from automotive to high-performance computing and service providers on the cloud.
7nm technology is advancing at a steady pace, and IDM 2.0 technology puts us on the path to regain leadership in manufacturing performance and leverage our industry-leading packaging technologies. With IDM 2.0, we will have a superior capacity and a greater supply capacity, taking advantage of our internal and external capacity and a superior cost structure.
By accelerating our pace of innovation, we will offer leading products in all categories. In the PC business, following the success of the Tiger Lake and Rocket Lake launches, we will launch Alder Lake, which is already in the sampling phase and will be commercialized in the second half of this year. In the coming weeks, we will record the compute token for Meteor Lake, our first 7-nanometer CPU by 2023. At the data center, we will follow the steep ramp of Ice Lake with Sapphire Rapids, scheduled for production later this year, and the ramp in the first half of 2022.
Overall, our roadmaps for 2023 are strong and in execution, and our plans for 2024 and 2025 are well on track to deliver unquestionable leadership products in all categories in which we participate.Pat Gelsinger, Intel CEO
Prior to 7nm, we expect to see multiple 10nm lineups in the desktop space in the form of Alder Lake-S and Raptor Lake-S, and Sapphire Rapids for the server market. However, analysts don’t share the same enthusiasm regarding Intel’s foundry plans. BoA analysts believe that the IDM 2.0 venture is too costly and won’t bring Intel any profits due to the low-profit nature of the foundry business and the tough competition.
The financial performance of the company is also a matter of concern as the Data Center revenue fell by over 20%. This is despite the fact that both AMD and NVIDIA have reported record revenues for both Data Center and consumer businesses. Meanwhile, TSMC is being touted as the de-facto foundry for the remainder of the decade. The Taiwanese chipmaker intends to invest over $100 billion in fixed assets up until 2025, with an aim to master the 3nm, 2nm, and finally, sub-1nm nodes.
Overall, it looks like the next couple of years are going to be crucial for Intel and if the foundry business fails to deliver on the said promises, it’s very much possible that it’ll be forced to sell the entire division and rely on external foundries like most competitors.