On Monday, Intel unveiled a new generation of processors that are built on an entirely new transistor formula designed to improve performance while decreasing wasteful electricity leaks.
Gordon Moore, Intel's cofounder, said the technology responsible for the new processors represents the biggest transistor advancement in 40 years.
The processors are the first to use Intel's Hafnium-based high-k metal gate formula and also the first to be manufactured on the company's 45-nanometer manufacturing process, further boosting performance and lowering power consumption.
Nearly Twice the Density
The new 45-nm processors boast nearly twice the transistor density of previous chips built on the company's 65-nm technology. That is up to 820 million transistors for each processor using Intel's new formula.
Combining these advancements with new processor features clears the path for Intel to design products that are 25 percent smaller than previous versions and thus more cost-effective, the company said. In addition, the new technology gives Intel the ability to pursue new opportunities for ultramobile electronics.
"As devices shrink the scaling of the device sizes tends to play against them," said Rob Lineback, senior market research analyst at IC Insights. "They don't work as well as they get smaller and thinner. Leakage has been one of the biggest problems the industry has faced in recent technology generations.
But, he said, Intel's advancement has the potential to create better transistors that do not leak current and basically perform better switching.
High End of Desktop
The Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650 quad core processor, one of the new 45-nm chips, aims to please hardcore gamers and media enthusiasts. Enhancements such as a larger L2 cache and support for new Intel media instructions are designed to help bring desktop performance to "extreme" new levels, Intel said.
Also new to the Intel lineup are 15 dual-core and quad-core Xeon processors. The 12 new quad-core chips boast clock speeds ranging from 2 GHz up to 3.20 GHz, with frontside bus (FSB) speeds up to 1,600 MHz, and cache sizes of 12 MB. The three new dual-core chips feature clock speeds of up to 3.40 GHz, an FSB of up to 1,600 MHz, and cache sizes of 6 MB.
"This is a revolutionary move, but Intel isn't the only one doing it," Lineback said. "The question is whether Intel will essentially control the type of material and the processes that other companies are going to have to use to follow them. Intel's is not the only way. It may be the best way, and that's what we have to wait and see."
It will probably be at least a year before AMD can match Intel's technology, Lineback said. "This is an attempt by Intel to stay ahead, and not only ahead in this generation, but guaranteeing it can be even further ahead even at 32 nanometers."