Intel gets a speed boost from its PowerVia power delivery tech for its 2024 Arrow Lake CPUs

Intel powervia

Even as Intel gets ready to launch its new Meteor Lake-based CPUs sometime later in 2023, it's already getting ready for the next generation of chips after that, with the code-name Arrow Lake. Today, Intel announced it had successfully tested a new technology that will be used in Arrow Lake CPUs that could result in a solid boost in performance.

The new tech is called PowerVia, and Intel announced today that it had successfully made and tested it with solid performance results. Intel says PowerVia also represents an all-new way to manufacture CPUs.

Currently, chips made by Intel, and other chipmakers, are made with a top layer of transistors along with power connection wires. However, this method is hitting its physical limits. Intel stated:

As they get smaller and denser, the layers that share interconnects and power connections have become an increasingly chaotic web that hinders the overall performance of each chip.

Intel's solution is what it calls PowerVia. It basically separates the transistors from the power connections on the top of the chip. The press release describes this new process, with quotes from Ben Sell, vice president of Technology Development at Intel:

Transistors are built first, as before, with the interconnect layers added next. Now the fun part: flip over the wafer and “polish everything off,” Sell notes, to expose the bottom layer to which the wires (well, metal layers … all these “wires” are microscopic) for power will be connected. “We call it silicon technology,” he adds, “but the amount of silicon that’s left on these wafers is really tiny.”

Intel tested it with a Blue Sky Creek Meteor Lake test chip. That chip had " >5% frequency improvement and >90% cell density" for its E-cores according to Sell. Intel claims other competitors like AMD are likely two years away from developing this "backside power" technology.

Intel will use this new way to make chips for Arrow Lake, which will access the company's 20A process. Arrow Lake CPUs are scheduled to launch sometime in the first half of 2024.

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