Intel and Samsung could collaborate on processor and memory technologies beyond 2024
The last years of the previous decade were not particularly favorable for Intel, as the company struggled to meet the increasing processor demand and the advancements on the production nodes seemed stagnant. On top of this, the pandemic created shortages for key materials, plus AMD continued to eat away at the market share, so Intel really needed a radical shift in strategy. This, for the most part, came with the new CEO Pat Gelsinger last year, yet Intel is clearly aware that it cannot implement the new vision without some strategic collaborations, like the alliance with TSMC that should last at least until 2024. While Intel is currently investing billions of US$ to enhance its own production capacity and node efficiency in order to not depend too much on TSMC, other collaborations could still happen behind the scene. Just recently, Pat Gelsinger visited South Korea to meet with Samsung executives, although details on the exact scope have not yet come to light.
According to a report published by Korea Herald, Gelsinger attended the 2022 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last week and immediately after flew to South Korea to meet with prominent Samsung representatives, including co-CEO Kyung Kye-hyun and head of mobile division Roh Tae-moon, as well as high-ranking officials overseeing the memory, processor and foundry sectors.
Besides Intel, TSMC and Samsung are currently the only companies with proprietary foundries that intend to break the sub-2 nm transistor barrier by this mid-decade. The angstrom era is viewed as a crucial milestone for Intel, but judging from how the company is choosing to name its process nodes right now (Intel 7 is still 10 nm and Intel 4 will be 7 nm), we might not see true angstrom size transistors from Intel with the introduction of the 20A and 18A nodes scheduled for 2024-2025.
It is not yet clear if Samsung can help in this regard, but the Korea Herald report suggests that “compatibility between memory chips and processors is key as Samsung is seeking a breakthrough in memory chip standards, aiming at DDR5 for PCs and servers and LPDDR6 for mobile phones. It is also aiming for new memory interfaces such as Compute Express Link.”
Intel specifically mentioned that the upcoming Meteor Lake processors releasing in 2023 make use of TSMC’s N3 nodes, and some new reports claim that the entire processor will actually be built with TSMC N5 technology. Beyond that, starting with Lunar Lake, there is no mention of TSMC nodes anymore, so that is when Samsung could step in, as suggested by Tom’s Hardware.