With news Friday that Intel is investing $5 billion in a new manufacturing plant, to be located in Arizona, which will reduce the lithography to 14nm for the production of CPUs, it is clear that nothing will stop the Tick-Tock timetable that the company set forth. Meanwhile, AMD is not ready for a lithography change, nor does it seem near.
Will AMD always be a cycle late and a process behind?
But back to the Intel expenditure, AMD never seems to have the boatloads of cash needed to make the early move, as Intel does, with the new plant being begun as the plant at 32nm just begins it ramp up to full production volume, and the products from it start coming into their own. The Intel plant, to be known as Fab 42, is slated to come online in 2013, just a scant two years from now.
In the story that broke from PC Magazine, the news of a visit from President and a position on an executive branch council for the CEO of Intel was occurring at the same time.
Intel announced the new investment on the same day that President Obama toured Intel’s Hillsboro, Ore. facility. Obama used the occasion to name Intel chief executive Paul Otellini part of the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. The new fab will, not incidentally, create “thousands of construction and permanent manufacturing jobs” at the facility.
Though the plant is coming at an opportune time for Intel, as it is able to somewhat deflect the bad press from the Cougar Point motherboard flaw and put the company back into the limelight as a leader of the technology sector.
The move to 14nm promises much higher performance, even if nothing is done to the circuitry, simply because the shrink in the feature size will mean much higher frequencies possible, along with a decrease in power consumption.
The shrink to 14nm by Intel may or may not be met with a die shrink from AMD, but it certainly will not be a step to parity. That is always the problem – AMD is a step behind. In the early days of computing it was by design, because AMD started out as a second source for Intel chips.
Now that the AMD team no longer second sources Intel parts, but designs on their own, one wonders why they remain behind, instead of taking the steps to parity of design size. If it was a matter of brain power, it might be understandable, but it seems to be a matter of money and some unknown quantity.
In the past, AMD had gotten help from IBM on certain parts and problems. Perhaps they should go there again, as it has been shown that the boys from Armonk have certain knowledge of design of high performance chips. After all, the IBM Power7 chip currently runs rings around anything that Intel produces, and IBM seems to have no problems with its own supply.
IBM has been working on 22nm for some time. AMD was to have been a beneficiary of that technology as well because the work was being done by IBM and ATIC, which became GlobalFoundries. It would be sad to see AMD left behind and not take the jump to 22nm as a way of leaping ahead.
If AMD skips a shrink and moves to 22nm, that would certainly get them in the same ballpark as Intel at the same time. Right now they are a day late and Intel has already won the day’s game and gone home to gloat.