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Intel Equivalent Nodes, a new way to compete with TSMC

What if 10 nm, 7 nm, 5 nm or 3 nm … Both TSMC and Intel have played cat and mouse with their nomenclatures, used more as pure marketing rather than defining the volumetric or metric scale of the transistors. Well, now Intel in an unexpected twist wants to facilitate the equivalences with a new concept for the industry, so that we easily know where the company stands with respect to its main rival: TSMC.

Intel Equivalent Nodes, an equivalent nomenclature for nanometers

It has been in a local newspaper based in Oregon where the director of Intel’s factory in that state, Ann Kelleher, would have launched an internal memorandum to communicate to employees that Intel would align industry standards to facilitate understanding for investors, shareholders and users.

Although it may seem like a step forward, the reality is that it is a marketing step for the company, since we start from the basis that TSMC always obtains a lower theoretical value in nanometers, when in reality the processes are much closer. For example, Intel’s current 10nm is on par with TSMC’s 7nm and in some areas ahead. Therefore, Intel released a brief statement that reads like this:

It is widely recognized in the industry that there is inconsistency and confusion in nanometric nomenclature, and it does not reflect the latest innovations at the transistor level.

So what is the correct way to call them?

Transistors per square millimeter, why were they not successful?


If there is something that in the end is representative, it is the density of the node, the number of transistors per square millimeter. But surprisingly, the industry and the companies left it behind to continue with the typical marketing, which is what was being understood until now, a number, easy, simple, without more.

Now Intel and analysts introduce a new concept called Equivalent Nodes (EN) or equivalent nodes in your translation. This concept will be based on the TSMC nodes and their traditional nomenclature, where Intel will also offer the traditional nomenclature and partly its EN compared to the Taiwanese. Thus, the current 7 nm of TSMC would be 13.8 nm in Intel, the 5 nm of TSMC would equal the 7.1 nm of Intel and the new 3 nm would be 4.1 nm in Intel.

This in terms of marketing is very important, since Intel would not be several steps behind, but one step behind, something very important when you want to sell a product. It is not known when they could introduce the new concept, if it will finally be called like that and with what products it will arrive, so we will have to be attentive to the new presentations and roadmap.