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Intel Nears Smaller Chip

The company is making 45-nanometer prototypes.


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has hit a key deadline in the race to produce the next generation of microprocessors, chips that promise more powerful devices for consumers as well as better margins for the world's largest semiconductor manufacturer.

Intel CEO Paul Otellini had promised earlier this year that design work on the new chips -- codenamed Penryn -- would be completed before the end of the year; and Intel said Monday it has accomplished just that and is now producing samples.

The new chips sport transistors that are just 45 nanometers wide, down from today's smallest at 65 nanometers.

The advantage of the smaller circuitry includes chips that consume less power and therefore generate less heat while performing more calculations in less time. And since chips are made from circular wafers, a decrease in the size of the chip results in a geometric increase in the yield.

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Products powered by Penryn chips will initially include higher-end desktops and notebooks, as well as servers.

The new generation of chips, says Dean McCarron, principal analyst of Mercury Research, will give Intel the flexibility to add features that will make chips more competitive in the marketplace, while still realizing cost savings that will improve margins.


Advanced Micro Devices

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is not expected to move to 45 nanometers until 2008, McCarron said.