AUG. 13–SANTA CLARA, CA–Intel Corp. has announced that it is taking the next exponential leap to a 90-nanometer platform to build microchips that are smaller, faster, cheaper and more energy efficient.
The chipmaker says it will begin making in volume on its 90-nanometer manufacturing process next year.
Intel’s current Pentium 4 processors are made using a .13-micron process. The size of the process refers to the width of the smallest wire on the chip. As the process width shrinks, more transistors can be placed on the chip.
In Intel’s 90-nanometer process, the transistors themselves will only be 50 nanometers in length, comparing to current Pentium 4s’ 60-nanometer long transistors. The transistors also feature minuscule gate oxides at 1.2 nanometers thick, or five atomic layers, the width of five silicon atoms. Short transistors and thin gate oxides increase processor speed.
Intel’s switch to the tinier circuits comes despite a sharp decline in demand for new computer chips amid a slowdown in electronics demand and a resulting decline in spending on new chip production equipment by many of its global competitors.
The company’s push into 90 nanometer technology marks a bet by Intel that demand for powerful new circuits will recover within two years, rewarding it for continuing to invest aggressively in new technology during the recent slump.