Processors have followed Moore's Law for years, which has resulted in better performance, and in-turn the smaller the chip.
Even back as far as 2004, Intel CPU's would have the 'Northwood' 42nm architecture, and now we're in single digits, from 42 to 5.
Chip maker TSMC has announced that they will be responsible for creating the chips for Intel for the next eighteen months.
With that, here's what that can mean for Intel, and what these smaller nanometre chips actually mean.
What is '5nm' for a CPU?
Trendforce had this to say through their press release:
"While the company is planning to kick off mass production of Core i3 CPUs at TSMC’s 5nm node in 2H21, Intel’s mid-range and high-end CPUs are projected to enter mass production using TSMC’s 3nm node in 2H22.
In recent years, Intel has experienced some setbacks in the development of 10nm and 7nm processes, which in turn greatly hindered its competitiveness in the market. With regards to smartphone processors, most of which are based on the ARM architecture, Apple and HiSilicon have been able to announce the most advanced mobile AP-SoC ahead of their competitors, thanks to TSMC’s technical breakthroughs in process technology."
A 'nanometre' or 'nm' states the size in the transistors in a CPU. The smaller the transistor, the less power is needed. If you have taken a processor out of its box and into the motherboard slot, you will see thousands and thousands of gold pins.
Every two years, these shrink further, to a point where more features and improvements can be brought. However, Intel have been on 14nm for a long while, while AMD and Apple have been shrinking their CPU line further.
This has resulted in huge performance and battery gains, the results of which we're seeing in Apple's M1 chip and soon, AMD's 5000 Laptop chips.
What's next for CPU's?
While Intel don't have code-names for their 2022 chips, it's generally understood that they are lagging behind Intel and Apple.
Chips are only going to get smaller, with Intel already publishing a roadmap for a 1.4nm chip on course for 2029.
However, the CPU landscape may have drastically changed by then, seeing laptops and tablets achieve four full days of battery and running games at full speed at an 8K resolution.
We are in interesting times for processors with ARM making waves in devices, but time will tell whether Intel's chips will suffice for consumer's demands in the coming years.