updated 01:55 pm EDT, Tue September 18, 2007
Intel at IDF Fall 2007
Chipmaker Intel today launched its Intel Developer Forum of the fall by demonstrating its smallest-ever processor technology. Company chief Paul Otellini revealed that the company had successfully developed the world's first working CPUs built on a 32 nanometer manufacturing process, eclipsing even the 45nm "Penryn" chips that will only launch by the end of this year. The newer chips rely on a combination of an improved version of "Penryn's" high-k metal gate transistors with enhanced logic and static RAM to pack a record number of transistors on to a single chip: a full processor uses 1.9 billion transistors while 4 million will fit into the space of a single period character on a computer screen, Intel boasted.
While it was too early to offer performance figures or definitive launch information, Otellini noted that 32nm chips were destined not just for an unnamed future CPU but also for graphics hardware to help drive gaming and professional image modeling. Mass production was expected sometime in 2009.
Also on show was the company's next-generation 45nm processor core. Known as "Nehalem," the architecture will be the first to use the semiconductor firm's new Quickpath technology to link the processor to the rest of the system. It should be the first modern Intel chip with an integrated memory controller and will have better links to the chipsets on the mainboard. The redesign also provides an opportunity to improve performance-per-watt even further, according to the company. Nehalem will arrive during 2008.
In a third announcement, the company also noted that its 45nm notebook processors would include not just the first quad-core mobile processors but also a comparatively low-power, dual-core version that would net 25 watts at its normal thermal limit, improving on today's 35-watt Core 2 Duo chips that are made at 65nm. Part of the "Penryn" design, it should also include built-in WiMAX long-range wireless on the mainboard and will run on the updated "Montevina" platform that improves Intel's mobile performance. These should become available early into 2008 and will follow sometime after desktop "Penryn" chips, which debut on November 12th of this year.