Intel Fellow Dheemanth Nagaraj shares how Intel plans to transform chip technology through 2025 and beyond | HT Tech

Intel Fellow Dheemanth Nagaraj shares how Intel plans to transform chip technology through 2025 and beyond

Intel announced Qualcomm as one of the companies adopting its newly announced technologies including Intel 20A.

By: SHWETA GANJOO
| Updated on: Sep 01 2021, 12:27 IST
Intel Fellow Dheemanth Nagaraj 
Intel Fellow Dheemanth Nagaraj  (Intel)

Intel is a name that needs no introduction. In the past, the company has pioneered technologies that have paved the way for faster and more efficient chipsets. This in turn has led to the computing power of computers, be it the ones used in homes for personal use, business PCs or even supercomputers that are used in scientific research and at data centers, increase significantly over the years. Recently, the chipmaker shared its roadmap that will power products through 2025 and beyond. As a part of the process, the company also shared various technologies and processes that will pave the way for more advanced chips with even greater computing power and efficiency.

Intel introduced a new naming structure for its process nodes, creating a clear and consistent framework to give customers a more accurate view of process nodes across the industry. Based on performance and power projections, Intel's next node – which was previously called Enhanced SuperFin – now becomes Intel 7. Intel 7 will be featured in products such as Alder Lake for client in 2021 and Sapphire Rapids for the data center, which is expected to be in production in the first quarter of 2022.

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Intel 7 will be followed by Intel 4 and Intel 3. Intel 4 will feature EUV lithography to print incredibly small features using ultra-short wavelength light. It will be ready for production in the second half of 2022 for products shipping in 2023, including Meteor Lake for client and Granite Rapids for the data center. Intel 3 will be ready to begin manufacturing products in the second half of 2023. After Intel 3, the next node will be called Intel 20A and will feature two technologies, RibbonFET and PowerVia. Intel 20A is expected to ramp in 2024 and Intel has already announced it will partner with Qualcomm using this process technology. 

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Beyond Intel 20A, Intel 18A is already in development for early 2025 with refinements to RibbonFET that will deliver another major jump in transistor performance.

Intel also provided updates on its industry-leading advanced packaging roadmap and announced Amazon Web Services (AWS) as its first customer to use Intel Foundry Services (IFS) packaging solutions.

On the sidelines of these announcements, we interacted with Intel Fellow Dheemanth Nagaraj to understand how these new launches will improve the existing technological setup. Here are excerpts from our conversation with Intel's first Fellow from India…

How will the Intel 20A be different from the existing technological setup? What are the advantages it will bring to bear?

Intel 20A follows Intel 3 and will be another watershed moment in process technology, featuring two ground-breaking technologies, RibbonFET and PowerVia.

– RibbonFET will be Intel's implementation of Gate All Around (GAA) transistors, our first new transistor architecture since we pioneered FinFETs in 2011.

– PowerVia will be an industry-first deployment of a backside power delivery network technology when it is introduced with Intel 20A.

With Intel 20A, we are crafting devices and materials at the atomic level….Overall, we expect a broad range of Intel and industry products on Intel 20A.

The new nodes we just introduced – Intel 7, Intel 4, Intel 3 and Intel 20A – underscore how we will deliver a predictable, annual cadence of technology innovation. Our new node naming is based on key technical parameters that matter to our customers including process performance, power and area.

What sort of differences are we looking at when comparing RibbonFET with FinFET?

We will introduce Gate All Around (GAA) transistors with Intel 20A, our first new transistor architecture since we pioneered FinFETs in 2011. GAA has been in development across the industry for several years, and the name comes from the transistor architecture where the gate is wrapped around the channel. Intel calls our version of GAA RibbonFET.

Our process roadmap is tuned for high-performance applications. The GAA “nanoribbons” in our RibbonFET technology enable higher drive current at all voltages, which will translate to a significant performance boost for our products. Just as we did with FinFET technology, we will continue to enhance RibbonFET technology in subsequent generations. Intel 18A is already in development for early 2025 with refinements to RibbonFET that will deliver another major jump in transistor performance along with clear process performance per watt leadership.

Intel announced that it will be partnering with Qualcomm for its Intel 20A process technology. Could you share some details in this regard?

We are also excited about the opportunity to partner with Qualcomm using our Intel 20A process technology. Both Intel and Qualcomm believe strongly in the advanced development of mobile compute platforms and ushering in a new era in semiconductors.

What kind of advances can we expect from Intel 7 and EMIB for your upcoming data center product Sapphire Rapids?  Similarly, what advances does Intel 4 bring to Granite Rapids?

Formerly referred to as Enhanced SuperFin, Intel 7 is expected to deliver an approximately 10% - 15% transistor performance per watt increase over Intel 10nm SuperFin, based on transistor-level optimizations. Intel 7 will be featured in Sapphire Rapids for the data center, which is expected to be in production in the first quarter of 2022. 

The upcoming Sapphire Rapids SoC will also be the first Xeon product to ship in volume with EMIB. EMIB is a multi-die Interconnect Bridge. Instead of using a large silicon interposer typically found in other 2.5D approaches, EMIB (embedded multi-die interconnect bridge) is a small bridge die with multiple routing layers embedded in a standard organic package, providing high-performance connectivity between multiple tiles for achieving the near equivalent of monolithic performance. By comparison to a standard package interconnect, EMIB has 2x bandwidth density and 4x better power efficiency.

Our 2023 CPU product roadmap includes “Granite Rapids” for data centers. Granite Rapids will be on our second generation of EMIB and will have compute tiles built on Intel 4. Intel 4 is our first node to fully embrace the use of Extreme UV lithography or EUV. Intel 4 is expected to deliver an approximately 20% process performance per watt increase, more than a full node's worth increase, and will be ready for production in the 2nd half of 2022 for products shipping in 2023. 

How will PowerVia improve the overall efficiency of processors? Will we see this technology in client or data center solutions?

PowerVia will be an industry-first deployment of a backside power delivery network technology when it is introduced with Intel 20A. It significantly reduces the need for power routing on the front side of the wafer by bringing power in from the backside, making more resources available for optimizing signal routing and as a result, reducing signal delays. The overall result is a performance boost at the IP block level and a reduction in power leakage.

We expect to test PowerVia on earlier nodes to ensure this ground-breaking technology is fully ready before it ramps in volume with Intel 20A in 2024.  We also expect the first product for PowerVia to be a leadership client solution. 

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First Published Date: 18 Aug, 07:00 IST
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