Intel has announced a collaboration with Qualcomm that will lead to the production of some future chips on behalf of the latter company. The chips will be produced with a manufacturing process called 20A, an architecture that involves the use of next-generation tri-gate transistors (FinFET) and that should be operational by 2024.
It’s unclear what Qualcomm chips will be produced by Intel but the San Diego-based wireless telecommunications specialist’s chips are used in various Android smartphones. Intel generically reports that the 20A design will be available in 2024 but has not given an exact timeline regarding the collaboration with Qualcomm.
Intel 20A ushers in the angstrom era with two technologies called RibbonFET and PowerVia.
RibbonFET, the implementation of a transistor with gates on all sides, as mentioned will be the company’s first new transistor architecture since it introduced FinFET in 2011. The technology promises higher transistor switching speeds for the same drive current than chips with multiple fins, but with a smaller footprint. PowerVia is Intel’s implementation of power from the back, a mechnism that optimizes signal transmission by eliminating the need to run power to the front of the wafer.
Intel reports that with the 20A manufacturing process comes RibbonFET, the first new transistor architecture since the introduction of FinFET in 2011, promising fast transistor switching and a smaller footprint. Following Intel 20A, Intel 18A is expected to be developed by early 2025 with refinements to the RibbonFET technology, promising another big jump in transistor performance. Intel is also working to define, create and implement the next generation of “High NA EUV”, extreme ultraviolet lithography, expecting to receive the industry’s first manufacturing tools. The CPU company reports that it is working closely with ASML (the leading supplier of machinery to the semiconductor industry), to ensure success with this industrial breakthrough beyond the current EUV generation.
According to Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger, the company he leads aims to be on a clear path of performance leadership by 2025.
Qualcomm’s chips will be produced as part of Intel Foundry Services, a program that aims to make Intel a business of choice in the foundry world, becoming a leading provider of foundry services located in the US and Europe to meet global semiconductor demand. To that end, Intel is creating either a new standalone business unit called Intel Foundry Services (IFS), led by industry veteran Dr. Randhir Thakur, who will report directly to Gelsinger. IFS promises to be different from other foundry offerings in terms of process technology, packaging and capacity.à productive.
In March of this year Intel announced an investment of about $20 billion to build two new “fabs” in Arizona and plans to become a leading foundry in the U.S. and Europe for customers around the world. The goals include building a first-class foundry business, Intel Foundry Services, with offerings to produce chips with both X86 and ARM architectures, aiming to attract the attention of customers such as Apple, which currently has its Ax and Mx series SoCs produced by TSMC of Taiwan.