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Watch out AMD: Intel’s finally powering towards 7nm as Meteor Lake CPU design comes together

Intel Core i9 CPU
(Image credit: Future)

Intel’s design for Meteor Lake processors is progressing nicely, and it seems like these CPUs with which the chip giant will make the move to 7nm are on track for a 2023 debut.

As highlighted on Twitter by Gregory Bryant, Executive VP & GM of Intel’s Client Computing Group, Meteor Lake is being ‘taped-in’ right now (as spotted by VideoCardz).

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The process of being taped-in refers to the diverse elements of the processor design all being finished, and taping in means these bits are all done and ready to be brought together to make the final chip design. 

Once that final product has been put together, Meteor Lake can then be ‘taped out’ and is effectively ready to roll design-wise.

When Intel announced Meteor Lake was in the works for a 2023 debut, the company said that it expected to tape in the 7nm compute tile at some point in Q2. Given that we aren’t yet in the final month of the second quarter, we can draw the vague conclusion that at this point, progress is moving nicely forward with what’ll likely be Intel’s 14th-gen processors.

Future Lakes

We’re currently on Rocket Lake which is the 11th-gen, to be followed by 12th-gen Alder Lake later in 2021 (on 10nm), and there will be a further 13th-gen launch in 2022, expected to be Raptor Lake (a simple refresh of Alder Lake, still on 10nm, if the rumor mill is correct). The 14th-gen Meteor Lake could then follow in 2023, finally dropping to Intel’s 7nm process, which is where AMD is already at (courtesy of TSMC) with the Ryzen range.

Of course, you can’t directly compare processes from different chipmakers – it’s not an apples-to-apples thing, more of a rough ballpark – and besides, there’s a lot more to CPU design and implementation than simply what process chips are built on. Nonetheless, 7nm is obviously still a very important move and milestone for Intel.

We’ve also heard that Lunar Lake could be the 15th-gen range in 2024, but that really is the far reaches of rumor territory at this point.

We should close by saying that even if Intel is on track with Meteor Lake right now – or maybe, just maybe, a touch ahead of schedule – there’s no guarantee we won’t see slippage elsewhere in the implementation process. But we can surely expect that Intel’s ambitions with 7nm have been well-informed by its struggle with 10nm.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).