SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Intel provided the first details of its 14nm process technology, now qualified for volume production in an Oregon fab, and gave a sneak peak at Broadwell, its first CPU to use it.
Intel claims its 14nm process delivers a lower cost per transistor than its 22nm node thanks to aggressive area scaling using self-aligned double-patterning lithography. It said the process will enable a new class of x86-based 2-in-1 tablet/notebooks less than 9 mm thick that will be on store shelves before the end of the year.
Intel reserved details of Broadwell products until its annual developer forum in San Francisco next month. But it did give some specs for its 14nm FinFETs. Compared to Intel's 22nm process, it will have:
- 42nm fin pitch, down .70x
- 70nm gate pitch, down .78x
- 52nm interconnect pitch down .65x
- 42nm high fins, up from 34nm
- a 0.0588 micron2 SRAM cell, down .54x
- ~0.53 area scaling compared to 22nm
Products using the 14nm process have been delayed nearly a year due to yield problems. "Scaling the gate and fin pitches as aggressively as we have were reasons for yield challenges, but we are in a very healthy range now and will continue to improve," said Mark Bohr, a senior fellow for the company's logic development group.
Mark Bohr holds a 14nm Intel wafer.
The area shrinks came in part from building taller fins packed more closely together. The shrinks were needed to overcome wafer costs, which rose faster than normal with a new node due to the need for double patterned lithography. Intel rejected the litho etch/litho etch technique, using instead self-aligned double-patterning.
Netting out rising wafer costs and shrinking transistors "for Intel, cost per transistor continues to come down, if anything at a slightly faster rate," said Bohr.
He claimed Intel still has a significant lead over the rest of the chip industry despite delays of nearly a year in shipping 14nm products. "Intel is shipping a second generation of FinFET technology before others shipped their first," he said. With previous planar nodes, "others have tended to have better density than Intel but came to market later," he noted.
Bohr's comparison of Intel versus industry process technology progress.
Intel would not comment on when it will have a 14nm smartphone SoC or the impact it hopes Broadwell will have on sales of x86 tablets or notebooks.
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