What is Intel 7? The Raptor Lake architecture explained


Back in 2021, Intel decided to switch up how it labels its architecture roadmap, ditching simple nanometer labels for, conveniently, lower numbers. But that doesn’t tell the whole story. Much of its current chips use Intel 7, here’s just what it is.

It’s rarely all that necessary for your average consumer to pay much attention to things like chip architecture but, for technology enthusiasts, it can be an interesting look into what’s coming next. For example, Apple is set to move from a 5nm process to a 3nm process when it moves from M2 chips to M3 chips. It’s expected this switch could lead to a significant boost in performance and efficiency.

The same can be said for Intel’s leaps forward in technology, with the next generation of chips, dubbed Meteor Lake, set to be part of its Intel 4 architecture. For now, we’re looking at the more current iteration – Intel 7. Let’s dive in.

What is Intel 7?

Intel 7 represents the third generation of 10-nanometer process chips from the manufacturer. Intel 7 debuted with the 12th generation Alder Lake chips and is still the moniker used for current generation Raptor Lake chips. Intel 7 was originally referred to as Intel 10nm Enhanced SuperFin before the architecture rebranding.

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Image Credit (Intel)

The change from nanometer to this naming convention helps to communicate the fact that Intel’s 10-nanometer process actually offers the same transistor density as 7-nanometer chips made by TSMC. The same argument also explains why the next step for Intel is Intel 4, which is set to compete with TSMC’s 5nm process and, as such, is expected to offer greater transistor density. After Intel 4, the next iteration is set to be Intel 3, Intel 20A then Intel 18A.]

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Before moving to Intel 4, Intel 7 will be the last process to use some called DUV (deep ultraviolet lithography) before moving to EUV (extreme ultraviolet lithography. The change aims to improve power efficiency while enabling a higher yield of chips to be produced.

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