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Intel Unveils Smaller Chips For Servers, PCs

The company is quickly shifting to 45-nm and 32-nm production techniques to allow for smaller computers that use less power.
Intel on Tuesday unveiled two silicon wafers built using 45- and 32-nanometer scale technology that are expected to produce smaller and more efficient chips for the next generation of servers and PCs.

Intel chief executive Paul Otellini heralded the innovations as a chance for Intel to push the envelope of performance in microprocessors, memory, and graphics chips.

Intel said it will move forward with its plans to introduce 15 new 45-nm processors -- code-named Penryn -- on Nov. 12 and another 20 -- code-named Nehalem -- in the first quarter of 2008. Intel said its 32-nm process technology is on track to begin production in 2009.

To make his point, Otellini held up a wafer of SRAM memory chips made with 32-nm process technology containing more than 1.9 billion transistors. He subsequently held up a 45-nanometer processed wafer packed with more than 731 million transistors on it.

"It starts to give us the know-how to build mainstream microprocessors two years from today," Otellini said during the company's annual developer conference in San Francisco.

The technology is expected to be immediately adopted by hardware manufacturers who build rack servers, blade servers, workstation PCs, and laptops. The smaller footprint allows for nearly quadruple the number of chips per square inch as the original Pentium. The improved designs also allow for more powerful handheld devices the size of a digital camera.

"As our advanced technology reaches consumers and businesses in the next couple of years, the amount of computing power they'll be able to harness will help them become even more productive, creative, and innovative," Otellini said.

Intel also is using its manufacturing advancements to reduce the size and increase the capacity of other semiconductors. Intel's chipsets and graphics are primarily produced using 90-nm production techniques. Intel said it plans to shrink the processes down to 65-nm and 45-nm in 2008 and 2009, respectively. Chipset and graphics chips based on 32-nm technology are expected in 2010.

Intel is moving aggressively toward smaller process designs and has unveiled production-level advancements every two years since 2001. Intel said it's latest 45-nm rollout plans will be helped with its two existing manufacturing labs in Oregon and Arizona as well as two more fabrication plants coming online next year in Israel and New Mexico.