updated 10:35 am EST, Mon December 10, 2007
IBM 32nm Processor Tech
IBM began its week with news that it has developed a new 32-nanometer processor manufacturing technology that it says will not just improve performance but also make it more accessible. The process uses a variant on the same high-k/metal gate technique that replaces some of the silicon in transistors with more efficient, cooler materials to pack more components into a single chip and increase performance. An enhancement, known as "high-k/gate-first," not only includes a further shrink from the 45 nanometers of technology about to reach the market to 32 nanometers but is also easier to produce. By focusing on the most advanced components first, it lets partner companies design smaller, faster processors without having to increase the chip complexity from the outset.
The New York state-based computer company says it has demonstrated a working example of the 32nm technology with prototype static RAM chips like those found in full-size processors, serving as a proof of concept for future hardware. IBM's development will not see mass production until the second half of 2009 at the earliest but will be used in CPUs and components from partners such as AMD, Infineon, and Samsung. These should reach both conventional computers as well as game consoles and supercomputers.
Intel has also developed its own 32nm technology for a similar timeframe but should spread its technology across its line from premium server-class processors to ultra-mobile PCs.