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Tuesday, November 02, 2010
Achronix to Use Intel's 22nm Manufacturing

Achronix Semiconductor Corp, a privately-held fabless corporation based in San Jose, will manufacture their future Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) products on Intel's 22 nanometer (nm) process technology.

With Achronix, Intel is offering access to its 22 nm fabs. For perspective, this deal would only make up a tiny amount of Intel's overall capacity, significantly less than one percent, and is not currently viewed as financially material to Intel?s earnings.

Taking advantage of its large investments in chip fabrication plants, Intel is opening its manufacturing doors to others for the first time. Intel now has line of sight to 22, 15, 11 and 8 nanometers, with first 22nm products expected to be in production in the second half of 2011. A nanometer measures in at one billionth of a meter. These days, more than 10 million transistors can fit in the period at the end of this sentence, and Intel is able to make chips the size of a fingernail that have about one billion transistors inside them.

Pursuing Moore's Law means smaller and lower-power Intel Atom, Core and Xeon chips about every two years. Yet these chips will still increase performance and provide more chip 'real-estate' to add features such as graphics or virtualization inside. But the advantage isn't just a time-to-market one. Intel is also adding unique features to its manufacturing capability, such as its 2007 Hafnium-based high-k, metal gate technology, which created a new formula for reducing current leakage, and thus power consumption, of transistors. Intel has shipped more than 500 million chips with high-k, and will be on its third generation of that technology when we begin producing 22 nm processors.

On track with Oak Trail tablet chips

In related news, Intel on Monday confirmed that it is on track to launch its Oak Trail chip platform aimed at the fast-expanding tablet market, in early 2011.

The chips have much-improved energy efficiency and hold their own compared to processors made by rivals, Marketing Director Anil Nanduri told Reuters.

Tablet shipments should grow by nearly 200 percent next year, while notebooks and other PCs will expand just 13 percent, according to a recent report by market research firm iSuppli.

The microprocessor at the center of Oak Trail lets users watch high-definition video for up to eight hours without recharging their batteries, an improvement from previous versions.

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