Intel Gets Into Metal . . .

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This is one of those stories that actually are far more important in the long run than 99.9% of those you’ll ever see.

Very succinctly, Intel has a power problem. Until fairly recently, its CPUs leaked about 5-10% of its power. That has jumped up quite a bit lately; now its circuits leak far more power (up to about 40% according to some Intel estimates in PIVs), which is why their chips have been resembling furnaces lately.

This problem had to be fixed if Intel expected to go faster, faster, faster long-term.

Well, it looks like they have.

Intel just announced that they’ve come up with materials that ought to almost eliminate all this wasted power (and heat). This PDF describes what they’ve done pretty nicely. It ought to buy Intel another five years of headlong development.

That’s the good news.

Intel won’t deploy it until 2007, with 45nm process technology. That’s the bad news.

This probably means they will have to struggle with hot processors for the next two generations of chips; hot meaning 100 watts or more.

That’s handleable, though Intel will probably lose more than a few sales to the paranoisic in the meantime.

What might be of more interest in that PDF is Intel’s projection of its process technologies out to 2011. By then, they expect to be using 22nm technology (as opposed to today’s 130nm) technology.

To put that in perspective, that means a CPU using 22nm technology could be 1/36th the size of the same processor. A Northwood (which is 131 sq. mm, or a bit less than a half-inch square) made with 22nm technology would be less than 4 sq.mm.

Or, the difference between this:

130nm

and this:

22nm

If you could shrink a mobo the same way, this is what you’d have by 2011:

mobo

Bet you could fit that in your cell phone, couldn’t you?

Perhaps of greater interest to companies like Via, rather than making 200 or so CPUs from a single wafer, one could make something more like 7500 from the same sized wafer.

That’s not what Intel is out to do. They’d rather have some megaprocessor capable of God-knows-what. After all, it’s hard to charge a couple hundred dollars for 22nm.

But most Joe Sixpacks and Suits might prefer

22nm

going into

mobo

and costing them, oh, say $15 more than not having it in their phone.

Something to think about.

Ed

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