What is nm in processor? | 5nm,7nm,10nm and 14nm Processor Size

👤 Diwas Poudel    🕒 Aug 28 2021    📁 Fix    📜 0 comment

When you go to market for buying a laptop and mobile phone then retailers will explain to you different features present in those electronic devices. In the process of explaining, you might have heard like it has a 7nm processor size, 10 nm processor size. This is a very good processor, it consumes less power, the battery lasts longer, the processor is faster than this and that. Then in your mind, there are some things roaming like  Uff what the hack is "nm".This article will guide you to understand this nm in processor.

What is nm in Processor?

nm stands for Nanometer. nm is a unit of measurement for length in a metrics system just like meters, centimeters,s, etc. It is used to express dimensions on the atomic scale. In technical terms, it is referred to as "process node" and "technology node". You will be clear with the following metrics comparison if you cannot compare or obtain the value.

1 km  = 1000 m
1m    = 100 cm
1cm  =  10000000 nm = 1e+7 nm

1nm = 0.00000001 cm = one billionth of a meter.

Therefore, 1nm is very very small which we cannot measure in daily life. It is used in the company which uses nanometer technology for measuring smaller items like for measuring the distance between adjacent transistors in processor design, size of the transistors used in our phones, laptops, tablets, etc.

Many chipset manufacturing companies like TSMC, Samsung, Intel, etc. uses nanometer as units in manufacturing processes. It tells how packed transistors are present inside the processor.

 The number of transistors used in electronic devices differs according to their use.

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Why Small nm in Processor is Better?

CPU is made with billions of transistors and is compact in a single chip. The smaller the distance between the transistor (in nm) in the processor, the more the number of transistors can occupy in a given distance. So, distance travel by electrons for doing useful work is reduced. This ultimately results in faster computing power, less energy consumption and less heat dissipate, less thermal output around the board, size of the die will be smaller, which ultimately reduces costs and increase the density of transistor on the same size, which means more cores per chip. Intel currently uses 10nm or 14nm technology and TSMC uses 7nm technology. These are the lithography of the processor.

Normally speaking, TSMC 7nm processor has more compact no. of the transistor in a given space, so, they dissipate less heat, consume less power, faster computing power than TSMC 14nm processor. This is only just one factor for determining better phones and laptops. There are also other factors like the amount of RAM, graphics unit, HDD, etc.

There are various benefits of having a lower nm lithography CPU some of them explain pointwise :

1 Faster Transistor: Distance between the source and drain of a transistor will be smaller in lower
nm processor and distance between transistor decreases so the electricity or we can say electron has to travel less distance for doing the task.

2 Lower Power Transistors: In lower nm CPUs, transistors can switch the state(on/off) with less power. The lower nm process will be more electrically efficient.In lower processor

3  Higher Transistor Density: Having smaller transistor sizes and distances between the transistor you can fit more transistors in a given area. Take a two-processor with the same die size and let say one uses a smaller value manufacturing process than the other than one with a smaller manufacturing process will fit more transistor in it.

4 Less Heat Dissipate 

So, the smaller the nanometer value better the processor.

Processor Size Law | Moore's Law

Moore's Law is just an observation or predictable analysis given by Gordon Moore in 1965 that the number of transistors used in a silicon chip doubles every two years. So, we can expect the capability and speed of our electronics devices to increase every couple of years. 

According to another preception of Moore's law, the development of a microprocessor is exponential. This seems to nearly following as shown below.

processor count vs year used in transistor


Today smartphones, laptops, game consoles,s or any electronic devices would not be possible if this development has not occurred.

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Now, let's talk about 14nm, 10nm, 7nm, and other nm technology.

These nm are nanometer values and note that there is no universal standard to calculate nanometer value. Different processor manufacturer calculates it in a different way. So, 10nm TSMC is not equivalent to 10nm Intel and 10nm Samsung.

According to Wikipedia, 7 nm Samsung/TSMC is equivalent to 10 nm Intel as below.

As they differ from company to company, these days nm in the processor are just becoming like marketing number. 



So note that we are comparing these nm technologies on the basis of one processor manufacturing company let's say: Intel

14nm Processor Size

  • Intel uses a 14nm processor in August 2014.
  • 14nm processor is faster than Intel 22nm processor.
  • 14nm processor is more power-efficient than Intel 22nm processor.
  • 14nm processor has less heat production than Intel 22 nm processor.
  • 14nm processor has high density than Intel 22nm processor.
  • The estimated transistor density of Intel’s 14nm Process is 44.67 MTr/mm² whereas 22nm processor used to have 16.5 MTr/mm²
  • Intel 14nm processor is popular in the market and is available in Intel 5th to 9th Generation Mobile and Desktop processors.

10nm Processor Size

  • Intel uses a 10nm processor in 2018.
  • 10nm in the processor is faster than the 14nm processor.
  • 10nm Intel Processor is more power-efficient than Intel14 nm processor.
  • Intel 10nm processor has high density than Intel 14nm processor.
  • Intel 10nm processor density is around 100 MTr/mm² (Cannon Lake)
  • Intel 10nm is not much in mass production.
  • Intel 10nm processor is used in Core i3-8121U, Ice Lake Mobile Chips
  • Intel, Samsung, and TSMC are leading companies producing 10nm processors.

7nm Processor Size

Currently, intel does not have a 7nm processor size. It is said that by 2023, Intel 7nm processor will arrive.

  • Mass production of 7nm processor begins in 2018 by TSMC fab foundries.
  • 7nm AMD processor is more power-efficient and has high density than AMD 10nm processor.
  • AMD 7nm processor is used in AMD Ryzen 7 3800X,AMD Ryzen 7 4700G, AMD Ryzen 7 PRO 5750G , AMD Ryzen 7 5750G 
    AMD Ryzen 7 5800G (in 2021 Q2) processor.
  • Two main brands in the production of 7nm processors currently are TSMC and Samsung.

5nm Processor Size

The lithographic process of 5 nanometers (5 nm) is a semiconductor process for the production of nodes after the 7 nm process node. Its manufacturing process begins around 2020. There is no Intel processor having a 5nm process. The first 5-nanometer process technology features FinFET-Transistors with nanometer with fin pitches in the 20s of nm and densest metal pitches in the 30s of nm.

  • Intel is planning for developing a 5nm processor.
  • TSMC and Samsung are developing a 5nm process in 2020.
  • They all use EUV (Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography) lithographic process.
  • TSMC, Intel, Samsung 7nm process wafer Type: Bulk
  • TSMC, Intel, Samsung 7nm process wafer size: 300nm

3 nm Processor Size

The lithographic process of 3 nanometers (3 nm) is a semiconductor process for the production of nodes after the 5 nm process node. Its commercial mass production will begin around 2023.

2nm Process

IBM recently announced the world's first 2nm process. According to them, they provide 45% high performance and 75% lower energy use than modern 7nm process design.


The current nm process uses electrons through silicon paths in the transistor for moving information. The next evolution of the chip can be photonics which inside of electrons traveling on silicon paths tiny packet of lights(photons) will travel and increase in speed with less power consumption. Scientists are working on this. Hope this is the future.


1) techcenturion.com

2)  semiengineering.com

3) wikipedia