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Recently, Intel announced its third-quarter earnings for 2022. In the earnings report, Intel officially disclosed the latest progress of its process technology.

Intel 4: is advancing in volume production; expected to flow with the production process of Meteor Lake processors in the fourth quarter

Intel 3: Still on track; Intel 3 and Intel 4 are the first process nodes to feature EUV lithography, which will deliver significant improvements in transistor performance per watt and compute density

Intel 20A and 18A: First internal test chips have flowed; internal test chips are being produced in the fab for a major potential foundry customer

For those familiar with the semiconductor industry, you may know that the Intel 20A process is roughly at the industry’s 2nm level. The other two advanced chip makers, Samsung and TSMC, are still focused on the 3nm process, and there has been no significant progress on the 2nm process. For example, Samsung has only announced some technical solutions for 2nm, and TSMC’s 3nm process has even been delayed and postponed. At this time Intel announced the Intel 20A first batch of internal test chips has been flowing news will undoubtedly cause some impact on the other two, so Intel can rely on the “Intel 20A” process to return to the dominant position in chip manufacturing.

Intel 20A process
Although the Intel 20A process is roughly at the industry’s 2nm level, the industry is currently even the same technology node (for example, both 2nm processes), and the gap between different manufacturers is still very large. And Intel’s process characteristics and the other two have a large gap, so the “Intel 20A” directly understands the 2nm process is still very inaccurate.

At present, the other two 2nm process is not obvious progress, but still can be combined with the process roadmap and other information for rough projections.

In terms of transistor density.

Samsung 2GAE (2nm) < Intel 20A < TSMC N2 (2nm) < Intel 18A

In terms of performance.

Samsung 2GAE (2nm) < TSMC N2 (2nm) < Intel 20A < Intel 18A

PPA Aspect.

Samsung 2GAE (2nm) < TSMC N2 (2nm) < Intel 20A < Intel 18A

Note: PPA is the abbreviation of Performance (performance), Power (power), and Area (size), and is a comprehensive evaluation of the chip manufacturing process performance.

Intel 20A is not the “king of bombs” depends on the release time
“Intel 20A” process has already started the internal test flow, but there is still a distance from full-scale production. So whether Intel 20A can become a “king bomb”, on the one hand, depends on the Intel 20A mass production time, on the other hand, depends on the TSMC and Samsung 2nm process mass production time.

However, it seems that Intel’s progress is still relatively smooth, so we assume that Intel 20A is released as scheduled, and based on this assumption, we will analyze it.

According to current news, the Intel 20A process is expected to be in mass production in 2024, while TSMC and Samsung’s 2nm process mass production is expected in 2025. If this is the case, Intel 20A process is almost a complete win compared to the other two 3nm processes.

In terms of transistor density.

Samsung 3GAP (3nm) < TSMC N3E (3nm) = TSMC N3P (3nm) < Intel 20A

In terms of performance.

Samsung 3GAP (3nm) < TSMC N3E (3nm) < TSMC N3P (3nm) < Intel 20A

PPA.

Samsung 3GAP (3nm) < TSMC N3E (3nm) < TSMC N3P (3nm) < Intel 20A

Conclusion
1, if Intel, Samsung, and TSMC’s 2nm process are released as scheduled, then Intel 20A is the “king bomb”, Intel’s process will remain in the “world’s first” position for a period of time.

2, Intel Intel 20A although only the “internal test chip has been flowing”, compared to the other two 2nm processes progress is still relatively fast.

3, in the 2nm technology node, TSMC and Intel are the first to use the new transistor structure (Intel for RibbonFET, TSMC for NanoSheet), so theoretically compared to the previous generation process will have a greater improvement.

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