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Intel's Future Chips Shrinking To 32-Nm, Adding Graphics

CEO Paul Otellini said Intel will spend $7 billion to support building new chips like the Westmere-based product, with its total of 12 threads and X58 Express chipset.

Intel plans to use four of its fabrication plants for its 32-nm product line. It plans to have two in Oregon running by the fourth quarter of this year, and one in Arizona and another in New Mexico in 2010.

Intel's move to 32-nm is expected to be equally beneficial for Intel and its customers. The latter will get faster chips with more transistors capable of running more processes in background, such as power and asset management and security, which will be particularly beneficial to businesses. Customers also will get better performance from the hyperthreading technology Intel is adding to the chips, so they can perform more tasks simultaneously. Other benefits include better graphics processing and support for the faster DDR3 system memory.

For Intel, the smaller chips means it can make more processors from a single silicon wafer, which translates into lower production cost per chip. This means Intel can remain competitive in price with Advanced Micro Devices, IBM, and others.

"It makes Intel much more cost efficient with its processors, which means they can stay competitive in very tough economic times," Leslie Fiering, analyst for Gartner, told InformationWeek. "That's crucial."

Intel in its latest quarterly earnings statement reported a 90% drop in profits and revenue fell 23% as a result of the economic downturn that has hammered sales of PCs and consumer electronics.

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