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Intel prepares to send its first 7nm CPU off for manufacturing

Intel fab worker

(Image credit: Intel)

Intel is celebrating the next step toward its first ever 7nm CPU. The Meteor Lake chiplet will be a 2023 follow-up from Alder Lake, which set to launch later this year, and has just concluded its penultimate design stage before the manufacturing process begins.

The final chip parts have now all been brought together for the first time in one package as a ‘tape in’ design, ready for the final ‘tape out’ design stage to precede manufacturing.

Gregory Bryant, Executive Vice President & GM of Intel’s Client Computing Group tweeted out a celebratory online meeting screenshot yesterday to commemorate this milestone achievement, which has since been confirmed with a quote tweet from the head honcho at Intel himself, Pat Gelsinger.

Taping in! Good progress! 24, 2021

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That’s a double thumbs up from us too, but the big question is who Intel will be taping out with. Having kept pretty quiet, the company’s outsourcing fabrication strategy remains unclear. An Intel news room article notes,

“Intel’s global, internal factory network for at-scale manufacturing is a key competitive advantage that enables product optimization, improved economics and supply resilience. Today, Gelsinger re-affirmed the company’s expectation to continue manufacturing the majority of its products internally.” 

So while it was confirmed that an ‘external foundry’ such as TSMC would be used for some Xe GPUs, the new 7nm SoC tape out may well be fabricated by Intel’s internal foundries.

The article continues, “The company’s 7nm development is progressing well, driven by increased use of extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV) in a rearchitected, simplified process flow. Intel expects to tape in the compute tile for its first 7nm client CPU (code-named “Meteor Lake”) in the second quarter of this year.” 

And so it did.

Hopefully the next stage will see the team back together to celebrate in person, once all this pandemic rubbish blows over.

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