Intel has announced that it is planning to rethink how it releases and brands its new semiconductor innovations. The news came from company CEO Pat Gelsinger during Intel’s Accelerated Webcast earlier this week. The company also released its broad roadmap on how it intends to develop and market brand-new chip technologies over the coming half-decade.
Gelsinger promised what he called an "annual cadence of innovation", something the CEO believes will put Intel in a pole position to retake the chip market from rival companies. According to Gelsinger, future Intel products, including its upcoming 12th Gen Alder Lake Chips set for release at the end of 2021, will no longer use the nanometre-based node nomenclature.
The nomenclature has been used by Intel and other major players in the chip industry for years. But it seems the company is done with that and instead, Intel is going to debut a new strategy that will provide a “more accurate look at the process nodes.” This, according to Gelsinger, will also provide a much clearer view of how Intel products fit into the broader chip industry, something the company feels will give it a competitive advantage over other players.
In principle, the new third-generation 10nm chips will now be referred to as Intel 7. There will not be any 10 nm-based namings like the 10nm SuperFin chips. When you look at this at face value, it would be easy to assume that this is just a cheap marketing stunt designed to give Intel an edge that it doesn’t have. After all, chips coming from AMD and Apple all have the nm-based naming system.
While to some extent this would be true, there is more to the change in names than a mere marketing stunt. This is because, in modern semiconductors, the node names don't have anything to do with the size of the transistor found inside the chip. This has not been the case since 1997 and still, most semiconductor makers insist on using the node-based naming approach.
For example, the 10nm chips from Intel are generally at par in terms of performance with 7nm processors like the TSMC. However, for the average consumer, it would be very easy to assume that 7nm chips are better.
Besides, there is evidence to show that Intel’s 10nm chips are still very competitive with cutting-edge 7nm Rayzen chips from AMD. From the Intel point of view, even though its chips are highly effective when it comes to performance, the way they are named gives the impression that they are not nearly as cutting edge as those produced by companies like AMD.
Based on this, it is understandable why Intel would want to make these changes in the way its chips are named and branded. It’s not clear though how this move will affect the company’s direction moving forward. Intel has in recent years come under massive competition from companies like NVIDIA, AMD, and even Qualcomm.