The AnandTech Decoder Ring for Intel 10nm

The reason why I’m writing about this topic is because it is all a bit of a mess. Intel is a company so large, with many different business units each with its own engineers and internal marketing personnel/product managers, that a single change made by the HQ team takes time to filter down to the other PR teams, but also filter back through the engineers, some of which make press-facing appearances. That’s before any discussions as to whether the change is seen as positive or negative by those affected.

I reached out to Intel to get their official decoder ring for the 10++ to new SuperFin naming. The official response I received was in itself confusing, and the marketing person I speak to wasn’t decoding from the first 2018 naming change, but from the original pre-2017 naming scheme. Between my contacts and I we spoke over the phone so I could hear what they wanted to tell me and so I could tell them what I felt were the reasons for the changes. Some of the explanations I made (such as Intel not wanting to acknowledge Ice Lake 10nm is different to Cannon Lake 10nm, or that Ice Lake 10nm is called that way to hide the fact that Cannon Lake 10nm didn’t work) were understandably left with a no comment.

However, I now have an official decoder ring for you, to act as a reference for both users and Intel’s own engineers alike.  

AnandTech's Decoder Ring for Intel's 10nm
Product 2020+ First
Cannon Lake - - 10nm
Ice Lake
Ice Lake-SP
Lakefield (compute)
Snow Ridge
Elkhart Lake
10nm 10nm 10+
Tiger Lake
10+ 10++
Alder Lake
First Xe-HP GPU
Sapphire Rapids
10++ 10+++

For clarity, 10nm Superfin is often abbreviated to 10SF, and 10nm Enhanced Superfin to 10ESF.

Moving forward, Intel’s communications team is committed to explaining everything in terms of 10nm, 10SF, and 10ESF. I have been told that the process of moving all internal documents away from the pre-2017 naming to the 2020 naming is already underway.

We reached out for Intel for a comment for this article:

It is widely acknowledged within the industry that there is inconsistency and confusion in [our] nanometer nomenclature.  Going forward, we will refer the next generation 10nm products as 10nm SuperFin technology-based products.

My take is that whoever had the bright idea to knock Ice Lake down from 10+ to 10 (and then Tiger from 10++ to 10+ etc.), in order to protect the company from addressing issues with the Cannon Lake product, drastically failed at predicting the fallout that this name change would bring. Sometimes a company should accept they didn't score as well as they did, admit the hit, and move on, rather than try and cover it up. So much more time and effort has been lost in terms of communications between the press and Intel, or the press and engineers, or even between the engineers and Intel's own communications team. Even the basic understanding of dealing with that change has been difficult, to the detriment of the press trying to report on Intel’s technology, and likely even on the financial side as investors try to understand what’s going on.

But, truth be told, I’m glad that Intel moved away from the ++++ nomenclature. It allows the company to now easily name future manufacturing node technologies that aren’t just for pure logic performance, which may be vital if Intel ever wants to become a foundry player again.

10nm Changes Direction, Twice
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • yeeeeman - Friday, September 25, 2020 - link

    Mister swan needs to go somewhere else because he is pathetic. He is consuming engineers time with stupid things.
  • shabby - Friday, September 25, 2020 - link

    Let him run intel to the ground.
  • xenol - Friday, September 25, 2020 - link

    And then let AMD take over the x86 market? That's even worse.
  • Drkrieger01 - Friday, September 25, 2020 - link

    The tech market right now is an example of why we want competition between silicon designers/manufacturers. Intel is trying to pull up their socks to catch back up to AMD, and it's creating better product for the end users, and at better prices. I think we all forgot the glory days of when Intel and AMD were in good competition (Athlon 64 XII/Phenom days anyone?), and price to performance was very good. But that was over 10 years ago now...
  • Lord of the Bored - Saturday, September 26, 2020 - link

    Heck yeah. We remember the great Athlon Wars, and mourn for those lost along the way.

    Pour one out for poor Cyrix, everybody.
  • velanapontinha - Saturday, September 26, 2020 - link

    I feel ya
  • fteoath64 - Monday, October 19, 2020 - link

    Don"t forget Centuar as well as VIA!.
  • AMDSuperFan - Friday, September 25, 2020 - link

    AMD will have 200 cores soon. Imagine being able to do 200 things at once on your home computer. So what if Intel does 50 things faster, I will be able to do 200 things.
  • FunBunny2 - Friday, September 25, 2020 - link

    "I will be able to do 200 things."

    unless you design nucular bombs or hurricane predictions or auto-generate paperback detective tales... why?
  • Hifihedgehog - Friday, September 25, 2020 - link

    Guess you didn't get the memo... Nuclear Bomb Simulator and Hurricane Simulator are coming to Steam in 2021!

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now