Intel’s CPU roadmap: Aggressive tech advances spur power efficiency

Intel is trying to convince investors that Moore's Law is alive and well.
  • Mark Hachman (PC World (US online))
  • 18 February, 2022 08:32
Pat Gelsinger (Intel)

Pat Gelsinger (Intel)

With CPU design shifting to an emphasis on improved performance per watt, Intel has followed suit with the technology giant updating its CPU roadmap with an emphasis on maximising power efficiency.

In a presentation by Dr. Ann Kelleher, executive vice president and general manager of technology development for Intel, the vendor stepped through its upcoming technology transitions, explaining them in terms of how much power each new processor will consume. Intel held an investor day Thursday afternoon to offer Wall Street a deeper look at its business.

Low power is now a growing focus in the chip industry, with rival AMD making it a priority with the Ryzen 6000 Mobile chip. Arm chips have always focused on power efficiency.

Intel began talking about its new manufacturing technology language last summer, when the company began moving away from descriptions of process technology (like 10nm) to more abstract descriptions of the process technology itself. 

The current 12th-gen Core chip, Alder Lake, is manufactured and shipping on the Intel 7 process technology, for example. According to Kelleher, Alder Lake improves 10 percent in terms of performance per watt.

After years of stagnating on 14nm technology, however, Intel has committed to aggressive technology shifts over the next few years. This fall, Intel will launch Meteor Lake, the first chip manufactured on the Intel 4 technology, and the first use of Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) technology by Intel, seen as a necessary step toward next-generation manufacturing technologies. 

According to Intel, the Meteor Lake client processor will offer a further 20 percent improvement in performance per watt. The Meteor Lake CPU tile will tape out in the second half of 2022, Intel said. (Intel hasn't said when Meteor Lake will ship.)