Saturday, January 27, 2007

Intel announces 45nm transistor technology

The New York Times reports that Intel has announced new technology for building microprocessors that replaces the "silicon gate electrode on a silicon dioxide insulator" design. The new technology uses a metal gate electrode on a hafnium insulator, eliminating much of the current leak that was the major obstacle in going below the 65nm technology. The new technology promises faster, more energy efficient processors, keeping up the Moore's Law. Intel plans to begin making microprocessors with the new technology as soon as the second half of this year.

To quote the NYT article:

Company researchers said the advance represented the most significant change in the materials used to manufacture silicon chips since Intel pioneered the modern integrated-circuit transistor more than four decades ago.
“This is evolutionary as opposed to revolutionary, but it will generate a big sigh of relief,” said Vivek Subramanian, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences at the University of California, Berkeley.

I wonder whether this'll break the industrial trend of introducing ever more cores in a single CPU chip. My bet is that it won't, but it might allow software developers to get away with writing concurrency-unaware applications for a bit longer (not that I welcome that) if Intel can now indeed again make advances in CPU speeds.

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