With the transition to 22nm process technology that will start later this year Intel Corp. will also move to a new manufacturing model that will rely on four leading-edge fabs instead of three. The plan will cost Intel $9 billion this year, but Intel claims that with 22nm manufacturing process it will be able to enter a number of new markets.
"In support of expected strong unit growth in our core businesses and the movement of graphics transistors to our leading edge process technology, we are forecasting an increase in capital spending to $9 billion as we build and equip an incremental high volume manufacturing factory at 22nm," said Stacy Smith, chief financial officer of Intel, during the most recent quarterly conference call with financial analysts.
At present Intel expects to rapidly transit its PC and server processors as well as various chips for low-power and mobile applications to 22nm fabrication process. Since previously the company transited its Atom and low-cost products to newer nodes around a year after premium chips, but with the 22nm the latest fabrication process will be applied for the whole product stack.
While it is very likely that Intel will start making commercial chips using 22nm fabrication process already in Q4 2011, the company itself does not want to make any official promises concerning mass production or revenue shipments just now.
"We have finished development of the process. We are in yield learning deployment right now, running test ships in there, ramping the yields up on the technology. We have completed the design of our first microprocessor and have working microprocessors on that technology. At this point in time our plan is to ramp production wafers of that technology in the second half of this year with products launched at some point to follow," said Mr. Otellini.
Among the most anticipated 22nm products from Intel are code-named Ivy Bridge microprocessors for desktops, laptops and servers as well as Knights Corner accelerator based on MIC [many Intel core] architecture. Intel has already confirmed that it does have working samples of 22nm chips.