Intel has already begun sampling processors on the new 45nm process.
The chips are samples of Intel's upcoming Penryn core, which is a
die-shrunk version of the existing Core architecture.
"We are processing the first samples of the Penryn design. These samples
will go back to the design team to determine if design is working as
expected," Mark Bohr, director of process architecture and integration at
Intel told Reuters in an interview.
The development is a further sign that the world's biggest microchip maker
is recovering from a series of missteps that caused it to lose market
share to rival AMD.
The chips take Intel's latest basic chip design -- called the Core
microarchitecture -- and shrink it down to circuits measuring just 45
nanometers wide, nearly a third narrower than current models.
The sample processors, known as the Penryn family within Intel, are being
made at a factory in Oregon, and the company is on track to begin selling
the chips in the second half of 2007. Penryn chips are expected to be
available in both dual- and quad-core variants with clock speeds going up
to 4.0GHz and cache sizes as large as 12MB.
Intel has mapped out a plan that calls for the company to upgrade its
manufacturing technology roughly every two years, with all-new chip
designs coming in between transitions.
Typically, the smaller circuitry not only boosts a chip's speed and energy
efficiency, it also lets a company produce more chips from a single slice
of silicon, improving profitability.
Intel's rival chip maker AMD is expected to ship its first processors made
using 65-nanometer technology by the end of 2006, and the company has said
it wants to get 45-nanometer products on the market by the middle of 2008
as it tries to close the gap with Intel.