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Intel plans 45-nanometer chips next year

Just to prove it can

Intel will enter the next era of Moore's Law in the second half of 2007, with commercial shipment of its first PC processors based on a 45nm (nanometer) manufacturing process, the company said yesterday.

Intel showed off what it called the world's first fully functional SRAM (static RAM) chip made with a 45nm process technology. It has more than one billion transistors, according to a company statement. Like other test chips, it functions as SRAM, but includes all the elements of a multicore PC processor, said spokesman John Casey. It is not intended as an Intel product, but only to demonstrate that the company can build a chip with the next-generation technology, he said.

A nanometer is a millionth of a millimetre, and each chip production technology is measured by the size of the smallest feature it can produce on a chip. With the 45nm manufacturing process, Intel can make processors with five times less power leakage than current chips, Intel said, and as a result, it will allow for PCs with higher performance per watt.

The company's most advanced manufacturing technology today is 65nm, which went into commercial production in the fourth quarter of last year. Intel moves to a new process generation every two years, the company said.

Moore's Law, coined by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, states that the number of transistors on a chip will double every 18 months.

The chips will be made on large 300mm wafers, Intel said. Those wafers deliver higher volume and lower cost per chip than smaller wafers. The company's initial 45nm work is taking place at its D1D fabrication plant, or 'fab', in Oregon. It is also building two more fabs for 45nm manufacturing, Fab 32 in Arizona and Fab 28 in Israel, the company said.


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