Intel Developer Forum: Intel chips to shrink to 32-nanometer process

Intel has said that from 2009 it will ramp up performance and energy efficiency in its microprocessors by using a 32-nanometer process technology.

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Intel has said that from 2009 it will ramp up performance and energy efficiency in its microprocessors by using a 32-nanometer process technology.

Intel president and CEO Paul Otellini showed a 300nm wafer built using the 32-nm manufacturing technology. The chip will house more than 1.9 billion transistors and its increased performance will enable "true to life entertainment and real-life graphics capabilities".

The chips will be an upgrade over processors built using the 45-nm process Intel is incorporating in its Penryn processor, due in November, and Silverthorne and Nehalem processors, slated to appear early and in the second half of next year respectively.

Intel currently uses a 65-nm process to manufacture chips, and Penryn is the code name given to the 45-nanometer "shrink" of Intel's current chip designs. The measurements refer to the size of the features on the silicon chip.

In the first public demonstration of the Nehalem processor, Otellini said it will deliver better performance-per-watt and better system performance through its QuickPath Interconnect system architecture, which will include an integrated memory controller and improved communication links between system components.

Otellini also announced a Penryn dual-core processor operating at 25 watts that will be available on the upcoming Montevina platform, which will include WiMax technology. To meet multiple computing needs, Intel plans to introduce 15 new 45-nm processors by the end of the year and 20 in the first quarter of 2008.

Intel is not the first to announce 32-nm chip technology. In May, a group of chipmakers led by IBM agreed to further collaborate to jointly develop 32-nm semiconductor production technology. The companies in the collaboration include Freescale Semiconductor, Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing, Infineon Technologies AG and Samsung Electronics.

There was nothing surprising in Otellini's keynote, said Doug Freedman, an analyst at American Technology Research. Intel's roadmap tends to be conservative, and the company is well on track to meeting its time line, he said. With the new chips, users will continue to get more processing performance at a similar price point.

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