Intel CEO Bob Swan said in an analyst call that the company is on target to return to a schedule of major manufacturing upgrades every 2 to 2.5 years.
Intel took longer than usual to move from 14-nanometer manufacturing to 10-nanometer circuitry, causing a disruption to the company’s improvement in cost efficiency and making it vulnerable to competition from rival Advanced Micro Devices, which uses contract chip manufacturers such as GlobalFoundries and TSMC.
AMD was able to move to 7-nanometer manufacturing (which Intel argues is equivalent to its 10-nanometer manufacturing) earlier this year, while Intel is expected to launch its 10-nanometer chips in the fourth quarter.
This is important because most Moore’s Law (named after a famous prediction by Intel chair emeritus Gordon Moore in the 1960s) improvements over the past half century have been contingent on moving to smaller and smaller widths between the circuitry.
A 10-nanometer chip has 10 nanometers (or 10 billionth of a meter) between the circuits, with billions of transistors (with each transistor made of multiple circuits) on a single piece of silicon.
Chip designers can also pack more circuitry onto a same-sized chip.