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  • Intel 14nm is NOT in Production Yet!

    Okay, maybe I’m the only one questioning Intel 14nm yield but I think it will be an interesting discussion in the comments section. Here are the questions I would have asked Intel during their recent 14nm PR tour: Has the P1272 process been rolled out to the production fabs in OR, AZ, and Ireland? Is the process officially in production (at Intel this means yield is in a specific range)? Before I share the answers I dug up to those questions lets take a look at the slide show Intel presented last November during the analyst meeting. Here are the most interesting yield slides:

    -intel-14nm-yield-update.jpg

    Please note that some of the slides have *Forecast at the bottom. Just last week Intel shared an updated yield slide with notably less detail. Wait, is Broadwell really an SoC?
    -intel-14nm-yield.jpg

    Clearly Intel missed the Q1 2014 “matching yield” projection but the question is why? Given that 14nm is a second generation FinFET process it really boggles the mind why yield is such a challenge. The consensus at SEMICON West last month is that there was a significant materials change at 14nm. If you know more about this please let us know in the comments section. Another slide Intel shared recently also shows a FinFET change which was predicted/discussed by Asen Asenov of GSS: Has Intel Learned from Predictive Simulations?

    -intel-22nm-vs-14nm-finfet.jpg

    Gold Standard Simulations (GSS) offers complete solutions for Design Technology Co-Optimisation (DTCO), PDK development and exploration and screening of future technology options. Our tool chain integrates predictive Monte Carlo and statistical TCAD simulations, statistical compact model extraction and high sigma statistical circuit simulation using ‘push button’ cluster-based technology. Our tools are the ‘gold standard’ in terms of physical accuracy, efficiency and usability.

    Why is Intel releasing this information now? My guess is that they are under considerable pressure from Wall Street (I have received several calls on it and have another one coming up). The last comment on 14nm production I remember is from BK on the Q2 2014 conference call last month:

    "We also expect the first 14-nanometer Broadwell Core M processor-based systems including fanless two-in-ones will be on shelves for the holiday selling season, followed by broader OEM availability in the first half of 2015."

    Since BK is an experienced Intel operations person it would have been nice if he had said, "The P1272 14nm process has been moved from R&D (copy exact) to production fabs in Oregon, Arizona, and Ireland. P12272 is currently in pre-production at those fabs with production targeted by the end of 2014." It's all about transparency Brian, absolutely.

    It would also be interesting to know why Intel chose such an aggressive metal fabric for 14nm. Is Intel bound by Moore’s Law and the ability to go where no transistor has gone before? Or was there a technical method in their madness?

    Hopefully the foundries will have an easier time with yield since they chose to reuse the 20nm metal fabric for their first FinFET implementation. In the foundry business it’s all about manufacturability and servicing a very large customer base so the method in TSMC’s madness is easy to understand.

    Also Read: Intel Versus TSMC 14nm Processes

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