July 20, 2024
Microsoft’s upcoming {custom} chip might be made by Intel

Intel’s comparatively new Foundry division — previously often known as Intel Foundry Providers till earlier at the moment — has simply landed a notable order from a giant identify. In line with Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella introduced that his firm might be tapping into Intel’s newest 18A (1.8nm) fabrication course of for an upcoming in-house chip design. However given Intel’s course of roadmap, this implies we seemingly will not be seeing Microsoft’s new chip till 2025.

Whereas neither firm disclosed the character of mentioned silicon, Microsoft did unveil its custom-made Azure Maia AI Accelerator and Azure Cobalt 100 CPU server chips final November, with an anticipated rollout a while “early” this 12 months to bolster its personal AI companies. The Cobalt 100 is predicated on Arm structure, and it simply so occurs that Intel has been optimizing its 18A course of for Arm designs since April final 12 months (it even turned an Arm investor later), so there is a good likelihood that this collaboration might result in the next-gen Cobalt CPU.

Along with the standard effectivity enhancements as node measurement decreases, Intel 18A additionally presents “the business’s first bottom energy answer” which, in keeping with IEEE’s Spectrum, separates the facility interconnect layer from the info interconnect layer on the prime, and strikes the previous to beneath the silicon substrate — as implied by the identify. This apparently permits for improved voltage regulation and decrease resistance, which in flip allow sooner logic and decrease energy consumption, particularly when utilized to 3D stacking.

Announced at Intel Foundry Direct Connect, Intel’s extended process technology roadmap adds Intel 14A to the company’s leading-edge node plan, in addition to several specialized node evolutions and new Intel Foundry Advanced System Assembly and Test capabilities. Intel also affirmed that its ambitious five-nodes-in-four-years process roadmap remains on track and will deliver the industry’s first backside power solution.


In Intel’s This autumn earnings name, CEO Pat Gelsinger confirmed that “18A is predicted to realize manufacturing readiness in second half ’24.” On condition that Intel’s very personal 18A-based processors — “Clearwater Forest” for servers and “Panther Lake” for shoppers — will not arrive till 2025, chances are high it’s going to be an analogous time-frame for Microsoft’s subsequent chip.

At Intel’s occasion earlier at the moment, the exec shared an prolonged Intel Foundry course of know-how roadmap, which contains a new 14A (1.4nm) node enabled by ASML’s “High-NA EUV” (high-numerical aperture excessive ultraviolet) lithography system. In line with AnandTech, this 14A leap might assist Intel play catchup after its late EUV adoption for its Intel 4 (7nm) node, although threat manufacturing will not happen till the top of 2026.

Intel Foundry is the brainchild of Gelsinger, who launched this division proper after he assumed the CEO position in February 2021, as a part of his bold plan to place Intel up in opposition to the likes of TSMC and Samsung within the contract chip-making market. Earlier than Microsoft, Intel Foundry’s listing of shoppers already embrace MediaTek, Qualcomm and Amazon. The corporate nonetheless aims to grow to be “the second largest exterior foundry by 2030” when it comes to manufacturing income, which it believes is achievable as early as this 12 months.

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