Typically, the higher a chip’s transistor count, the more powerful and energy-efficient it is
Typically, the more transistors inside a chip, the more powerful and energy-efficient it is. Let’s use the iPhone as an example. The A13 Bionic SoC released in 2013 was used on the iPhone 11 series and was made using TSMC’s 7nm process node. The chip contained 8.5 billion transistors. The A16 Bionic that powers the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max is made using TSMC’s 4nm process node (technically an enhanced 5nm process) and sports close to 16 billion transistors.
Three areas of research that Intel will focus on
Intel says that it will be able to keep Moore’s Law alive; this is the observation made by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore that originally called for the transistor count in chips to double every year. Moore revised this 10 years later as he looked for transistor counts to double every other year by 1975. Intel will be helped by having the first crack at the High Numerical Aperture Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography machine, the next-generation lithography machine designed to etch thin circuitry patterns on the wafers that become chips.
How Intel plans on regaining process leadership
The new machines will allow foundries to etch circuitry designs at higher resolutions to enable 1.7x smaller chip features and 2.9x increased chip density. Each machine carries a price tag in the neighborhood of $300 million. Gary Patton, Intel vice president, and general manager of Components Research and Design Enablement, said, “Seventy-five years since the invention of the transistor, innovation driving Moore’s Law continues to address the world’s exponentially increasing demand for computing.”
Also helping Intel toward its goal of producing packages with one trillion transistors are new innovations in the packaging of chips with a 10x improvement in density. This will allow a huge increase in the number of transistors that can fit inside a small area. And new materials to help produce smaller transistors include the use of a super-thin material that is comprised of just three atoms!