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New SerDes chip shines spotlight on Intel's 14nm process

Posted: 26 Mar 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:14nm? semiconductor design? manufacturing?

The process-development cost of dropping below 20nm could exceed $1 billion and require updates in fabrication facilities that could cost more than $10 billion, according to the McKinsey analysis, which suggested the result could be a dramatic disruption in the economics of the semiconductor business.

That threat, along with Intel's failure to keep pace in the market for mobile and handheld computing devices, led competitors to charge that the leading-edge technological capabilities that kept Intel on top of the semiconductor market for decades had become irrelevant in markets dominated by ARM architectures and chips from smartphone-processor market leader Qualcomm.

The delay Intel was forced to announce in all but the "M" and desktop versions of its 14nm "Broadwell" processors to the fourth quarter of 2014 rather than the first quarter of 2014 added fuel to the fire.

Announcing the 14nm version of the SerDes chips from the custom foundry business, Intel CEO Bob Krzanich has previously spoken of the chip company's manufacturing prowess as a way to compensate for weak sales in the mobile market, gives Intel a chance to highlight the 14nm process available only to it, and reinforce its message of technical superiority, even in the absence of much of its other 14nm processor products.

"This announcement is just the first of many exciting announcements we will make regarding the benefits of using Intel's industry-leading 14nm Tri-gate process technology and game changing advanced IP," according to a statement from Anurag Handa, senior director, Marketing and Business Development, Intel Custom Foundry.

Intel uses its 14nm tri-gate manufacturing to make Stratix system-on-a-chip FPGA/ARM CPU chips for ostensible competitor Altera. The chip giant has also reportedly been in negotiations with Marvell Technology Group over a similar deal and is expanding the facilities and workforce for its custom-foundry business to help make itself more competitive in the market for chip components including both SerDes and FPGA, according to an analysis in SeekingAlpha.

- Kevin Fogarty
??EE Times

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