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Rumor | Intel might ditch proprietary 7 nm process for full TSMC N5 on its 2023 Meteor Lake processors

Intel plans to roll out the Meteor Lake 14th gen processors in 2023.  (Image Source: Intel)
Intel plans to roll out the Meteor Lake 14th gen processors in 2023. (Image Source: Intel)
Despite Intel's latest reports on the steady advancements with the proprietary 7 nm production nodes, industry sources close to DigiTimes claim that Intel might change the Meteor Lake blueprints to be produced exclusively on the TSMC N5 nodes in order to avoid delays and ensure competitive performance in the battle against Apple's upcoming M processors.

Intel recently revealed in its latest conference call that the Meteor Lake developments are going well and the fabrication process should still be mostly based on the Intel 4 (7 nm) technology. Meteor Lake is codename for Intel’s 14th processor generation that will be launched after Raptor Lake some time in 2023. CEO Pat Gelsinger specified that “on Intel 4, Meteor Lake has now successfully booted Windows and Linux,” and “the speed at which the team was able to achieve this milestone is a significant sign of the health of both Meteor Lake and our Intel 4 process technology." However, industry sources close to DigiTimes claim that Intel is now evaluating the possibility of producing all of the integrated chips for Meteor Lake on TSMC’s N5 nodes.

The initial plan revealed in August 2021 at Intel’s Architecture Day was to combine the 7 nm proprietary process with TSMC’s N5 process. Some Meteor Lake components like the compute tile were supposed to be produced by Intel, while TSMC would have produced the integrated GPU tile and possibly the I/O (SoC-LP) tile. It looks like this might not be the case anymore and Intel is now trying to avoid production delays by fully tapping TSMC’s capacity for all Meteor Lake tiles. Additionally, by employing the 5 nm process from TSMC instead of the proprietary 7 nm, Intel is most likely looking to secure the edge over Apple's M processors.

DigiTimes sources further explain that TSMC’s N4 process is also on the cards, since it is derived from the N5. Intel apparently does not want to compete with Apple for the N3 capacity, and will stick to N4 and N5 for the Meteor Lake tiles. These developments may be tied with Pat Gelsinger’s “secret” TSMC visit from April this year. Intel never publicly acknowledged Gelsinger’s latest visit in Taiwan, but local sources reporting for DigiTimes were quick to speculate that the Intel CEO was there to renegotiate the initial TSMC orders and ask for potentially increased capacity. Now the sources suggest that "Intel's Meteor Lake CPU [orders] will be huge enough to encourage TSMC to further scale up the available fab capacities for its 5 nm process platform by the end of 2022."

 

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2022 05 > Intel might ditch proprietary 7 nm process for full TSMC N5 on its 2023 Meteor Lake processors
Bogdan Solca, 2022-05- 5 (Update: 2022-05- 5)