Intel establishing pilot plant to test 7nm manufacturing process
During an earnings call last Thursday, Intel announced plans to establish a 7-nm pilot plant, where the company would explore the advanced manufacturing process. Intel's current chip platform, Kaby Lake, is built on a 14-nm process. The move to 7nm would allow significant increase in power efficiency and speed over current chips.
Moving beyond 14nm has proved to be quite a challenge for the semiconductor manufacturer. Broadwell, a shrink of the 22-nm Haswell design, was released in 2014. It was followed by Skylake in 2015 and Kaby Lake in 2016. Their upcoming chip, Cannonlake, which premiered at CES 2017, is built on a 10-nm process.
Intel doesn't plan on mass producing 7-nm chips for several years, but it will need a pilot plant first in order to solve issues with production and yield. The finalized production methods will then be replicated for large-scale production at other plants, where billions of chips will be made.