Ann Kelleher, General Manager of Technology Development at Intel, published the latest roadmap for the IEEE Electron Device Meeting 2022. It describes Intel 4 as “production-ready today” and names Meteor Lake as the first target product of the new node.
The 10nm node or “Intel 7” reached full volume production about five years later than Intel originally planned. Intel 4 or the (7nm) is also far behind Intel’s original plans. But the company has made a major effort under new CEO Pat Gelsinger to get its chip production technology back on track. Confirming that Intel 4 is manufacturable and ready for production is arguably the first critical step in Gelsinger’s IDM 2.0 master plan to transform Intel.
Intel’s roadmap to 2025 Source: Intel
Meteor Lake will be Intel’s first consumer chiplet CPU. The CPU cores, consisting of several dies, are manufactured on Intel 4, while the graphics cores are manufactured by the Taiwanese chip forge TSMC on their 5 nm node. Other I/O and SoC tiles will be manufactured on older Intel nodes, probably Intel 7.
It’s worth noting that Intel’s 13th Gen Raptor Lake CPUs didn’t start shipping until September, which pretty much speeds up the Meteor Lake timeline. According to the rumor mill, Meteor Lake is expected to be limited to six performance cores, while both Raptor Lake and its predecessor Alder Lake offer up to eight P-cores.
So it’s unlikely that Meteor Lake will directly replace the entire Raptor Lake range right down to the top-of-the-line Core i7 and Core i9. Instead, it’s more likely that Meteor Lake will be a mobile design that could also see a limited launch on desktop, replacing the entry-to-mid-range Raptor Lake CPU models. There are also currently rumors about a Raptor Lake S refresh in the third quarter of 2023.
Probably the most significant improvement will be specialized AI components. AI is a feature of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Arm chips, whose legacy includes AI improvements for smartphones, including portrait mode with artificial bokeh created by AI.
In September, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger spoke a bit at the Intel Innovation conference about what he thinks Meteor Lake’s AI capabilities could do. “One of the things we’re going to bring is what I would call core AI skills,” he said at the time. “I’m on a Zoom or Teams. Do I want simultaneous translation or contextualization of this call? Yes. Do I want cameras that follow the speaker and do image enhancements? Yes.”