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Friday, August 21, 2009
Intel's 22nm Process to Enter Volume Manufacturing Stage in 2012

Intel is optimistic that it will be able to mass produce chips using the 22nm process in two yeas from now, the company said in a press event in Japan on Thursday.

The company's technology outlook includes the transition to the 32nm manufacturing process later this year, with full scale production to be applied in 2010, the Japanese technology web site PC Watch reported on Thursday.

Intel uses a logic technology that incorporates second-generation high-k + metal gate technology, 193nm immersion lithography for critical patterning layers and enhanced transistor strain techniques. These features enhance the performance and energy efficiency of Intel processors. Intel's manufacturing process has the highest transistor performance and the highest transistor density of any reported 32nm technology in the industry, the company claims.

Intel also believes that the use of Hafnium-based high-k metal gate (Hi-k) formula and the use of Metal (gate electrode) - both already used in the 45nm process - will again be the key to the succesful transition to the advanced 22nm process in 2010.

Beyond that, Intel's roadmap includes the transition to the 22nm technology node in 2012, followed by the 16nm in 2014 and the 11nm process two years later.

Finishing the development phase for the company's 32nm process technology and production readiness in this timeframe means that Intel remains on pace with its ambitious product and manufacturing cadence referred to as the company's "tick-tock" strategy. That plan revolves around introducing an entirely new processor microarchitecture alternating with a cutting edge manufacturing process about every 12 months.

Westmere architecture on the scene

In related news, Intel is expected to focus on its next generation of smaller and faster chips based on the Westmere architecture at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF), which will be held Sept. 22-24 in San Francisco.

Nehalem played a big role during IDF 2008. Many new details were introduced during keynotes and in briefings, including features built into the microarchitecture like Turbo Mode, which allow the cores to dynamically scale up to handle demanding needs like video encoding or scale down to use just enough of a core to finish a simple task like typing.

Where Nehalem was new chip archeticture design, Westmere is the next design being used to build processors that feature two 32nm cores with 4MB of cache that sit next to a memory controller and integrated graphics built on a separate, neighboring 45nm chip, all in one package. Westmeres will be the basis of upcoming all new Core chips (Core i3, i5, and 7) over the next few months.

Westmere processors will share some of the same features that were built into Nehalem, including Hyper-Threading and Turbo Boost.

Some Westmeres will feature HyperThreading will allow each core to handle two threads - or process two jobs at once.

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