updated 12:10 pm EST, Sat January 27, 2007
IBM and Intel 45nm Tech
IBM and Intel today separately revealed a new chip process that should dramatically improve the performance of CPUs as soon as this year, according to Reuters. Called high-K metal gate, the technology replaces materials long used in chips until today, replacing the silicon of a given chip transistor's dielectric and gate with hafnium and other metals. The result is the ability to shrink chips from 65 to 45 nanometers with far less of electricity leaks that waste heat and performance. This has the potential not only to boost speed in the near-term but also for years ahead, both semiconductor makers said.
Intel added to the announcement by demonstrating a faster Core 2 Duo processor using the 45nm process. Codenamed "Penryn," the new CPU (pictured) uses the extra space to boost the second-level cache per core by 50 percent, jumping from 4MB to 6MB. A new set of processor instructions dubbed SSE4 will also help with media decoding. Although Penryn is expected to arrive in production systems only towards the end of 2007, the processor has already been demonstrated running multiple operating systems -- including Mac OS X, the company said.
Read through for details of IBM's anticipated use of 45nm chips.
Although it too had developed 45nm technology at the same time as Intel, IBM on Saturday said its technology would see an introduction in 2008 among the companies that had helped develop its own version of the high-K metal gate. AMD, Sony, and Toshiba are all expected to use the reduced chip size to speed later versions of their chips. No official products have been announced but are likely to include newer versions of AMD's Athlon 64 X2 processors, as well as the Cell processor used today in Sony's PlayStation 3 and future consumer electronics from Toshiba.