Intel To Ship New Chips in November
Intel Corp. fired a pair of technical salvos at smaller rival Advanced Micro
Devices Inc. on Tuesday, announcing a November launch date for its next generation
of chips and showing off its momentum in manufacturing technology.
Chief Executive Paul Otellini told a crowd of thousands at the Intel Developer
Forum here that the company's next cycle of microprocessors, code-named Penryn,
will begin shipping Nov. 12.
Microprocessors are the calculating engines inside personal computers and the
servers that power corporate networks and the Internet. Intel is the world microprocessor
leader, commanding more than three-quarters of the market.
Its new chips boast a 20 percent performance boost and increased energy efficiency
over the previous generation, in part because of advances in chip-making technology
that shrinks the size of the circuitry and new materials used inside the transistors
to keep energy from escaping.
Energy loss is a major problem when the size of transistors, the building blocks
of computer chips, approach the atomic scale.
The average size of the circuitry on Intel's new chips is 45 nanometers wide,
or 45 billionths of a meter. Intel says the transistors are small enough that
more than 30 million of them could fit onto the head of a pin.
Intel and AMD both make chips now with 65-nanometer circuitry, and Intel is
racing ahead in the transition to smaller and smaller sizes.
"Intel is cranking on all cylinders," Otellini said in an interview.
"We're pushing the technology as fast as we ever have as a company but
on a broader front."
Otellini said Intel plans to have 15 new processors based on 45-nanometer technology
by the end of the year, and another 20 in the first quarter of 2008.
AMD spokesman Gary Silcott said Tuesday that the company is on track to deliver
its own chips based on 45-nanometer technology in mid-2008. AMD has a technology
development agreement with IBM Corp.
Otellini also showed off a wafer with test chips that were built on 32-nanometer
technology. Those chips won't be made for the mass market until 2009, but Intel's
first public unveiling of the technology further highlights its manufacturing
lead over AMD.
The chip Otellini showed off contains 1.9 billion transistors and incorporates
logic functions as well as a type of memory known as static random access memory,
However, while AMD is racing to catch up to Intel in manufacturing technology,
it's already ahead in a key design feature that Intel is now adopting -- a memory
controller built directly into the microprocessor.
The feature will be incorporated in Intel processors made on 45-nanometer technology
and featuring an overhauled design that are on track to begin selling in the
second half of 2008, Otellini said. The processors are code-named Nehalem.
Intel suffered a 42 percent drop in profits last year as AMD stole market share
and pressured prices. The company has regained its financial footing this year
with a new product lineup.