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SuperFin Rescues Intel’s 10nm Node

September 15, 2020

Author: Mike Demler

Intel’s 10nm technology had a disappointing debut in last year’s Ice Lake processors, but new improvements branded SuperFin deliver a much needed performance boost. The company had previously used the name 10+ for this iteration of its FinFET technology. The changes allow transistors to run 18% faster at the same power or to operate at lower voltage to save power. The new transistors thus enable a larger voltage/frequency operating range than their predecessors.

Additional speed improvements come from SuperFin’s lower-resistance interconnects. The company also developed a new multilayer metal-insulator-metal (MIM) capacitor that reduces transient power-rail droops and spikes, such as those caused by surge currents in power-gated circuits.

Although the intranode enhancements lack the area-efficiency gains of a true shrink, the speed boost makes up for the large drop in clock frequency in the original 10nm process, which first shipped in last year’s Ice Lake processors. The ups and downs bring SuperFin to about the same speed as Intel’s fastest 14nm technology. The first SuperFin products—Tiger Lake processors and Xe-LP GPUs—are in production now. An enhanced version will appear in several other devices next year.

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