Intel, IBM building smaller, faster computer chips

Intel Corp. and International Business Machines Corp. are each introducing new materials to build smaller and faster chips, company officials said over the weekend.

By RUTH MANTELL, MATT ANDREJCZAK, MARKETWATCH
January 29, 2007 07:28
1 minute read.

MarketWatch: In-depth global business coverage Intel Corp. and International Business Machines Corp. are each introducing new materials to build smaller and faster chips, company officials said over the weekend. The new technology affects the transistor, the tiny on/off switch that is the basic chip building block, and reduces both electrical leakage and the size of the transistor, the companies said. "As more and more transistors are packed onto a single piece of silicon, the industry continues to research current leakage reduction solutions," said Mark Bohr, Intel senior fellow, in a statement. Both companies are using "high-k" technology, which substitutes a new material into a portion of the transistor that controls its primary on/off switching function. Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel said it has replaced the transistors' silicon dioxide, a material the company has used for more than 40 years, with a thicker, hafnium-based high-k material, reducing leakage by more than 10 times. Intel said it has five early-version products up and running, the first of 15 45-nanometer processor products that the company has planned. Called the Penryn family of processors, Intel plans to start making the chips before the end of 2007. The chip giant said the new transistor technology will reduce chip-leakage by up to five times, cut power consumption by 30%, and boost computing performance by up to 20% over the company's current micro-architecture. One industry observer said the latest technology should help Intel's chip roadmap. "This is one of the key changes that needed to be made," said Jim McGregor, director of semiconductor research at InStat, a technology research firm."Intel's manufacturing process is now inline with its product roadmap." In mid-2006, Intel refreshed its product roadmap with chips for PCs and servers based on a new microprocessor architecture called Core Duo. It was part of the company's bid to stunt market share gains by smaller rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc. since 2004. Those chips, however, sacrificed some performance for the sake of lower power consumption, InStat's McGregor explained. IBM, which is working with partners Advances Micro Devices Inc., Sony Corp. and Toshiba Corp., said it will apply the new technology to products with chip circuits as small as 45 nanometers starting in 2008. MarketWatch: In-depth global business coverage


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