Speaking to the firm’s executive vice president and head of architecture David (Dadi) Perlmutter recently, EE Times learned that Intel is pushing ahead with its sub 20-nm and 14-nm plans, while the ARM ecosystem struggles to find a business model beyond 22 nm.
Indeed, Intel claims to have line of sight all the way to a 7-nm process, with all the firm’s CPUs becoming SoCs as of 2013. Haswell will be Intel’s 22-nm SoC for tablets and Ultrabooks, while Merrifield will be the company’s SoC for tablets and smartphones.
After that, 14 nm is expected to be Intel's killer node with the most dramatic power improvements and integrated baseband.
Meanwhile, the ARM ecosystem has a rather more challenging road ahead of it, with low cost continuing to present a challenge for foundry supply, yield and materials science. ARM is seeing Moore's Law slowing down due to a lack of foundry spending and a deficit in R&D capabilities.
Even at the 28-nm, the ARM ecosystem is feeling the squeeze. Until very recently only one foundry (TSMC) could yield 28-nm chips, with Global foundries just starting to produce 28-nm in volume, and the entire industry is under-supplied.
With Intel pushing ahead to introduce FinFETs at the 22-nm and hoping to use EUV lithography at 14 nm and below, ARM faces an even bigger crisis of competition.
Having said that, ARM and its partners might do well to worry a bit more about Intel’s progress, with the firm’s 14-nm node already in “extremely advanced stages of design.”
Perlmutter said his firm is holding firm to its schedule of putting its first products on 14 nm in production later in 2013 .
“We will launch many products on 14nm. Our plans are advancing and we believe that we will grow the gap and it will give us more advantage,” said Perlmutter.
“Experience is enabled by performance. The better performance you have the better you are. It’s all about performance,” he said, adding “high performance computing in a small form factor.”