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Intel announces 45nm Penryn family

by Steve Kerrison on 27 January 2007, 08:34

Tags: Penryn, Intel (NASDAQ:INTC)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qahsk

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A new family is born... sort of

5am GMT on January 27th 2007 has passed, and that can only mean one thing. You guessed it... Intel's revealed info on its new CPU family. OK, maybe you didn't guess it, but trust us, that's what they've done.

Penryn is Intel's first 45nm CPU family, with some fancy technology like 'High-k' and 'Metal Gate' featured in it. Penryn family processors have been fabbed and Intel say they've got them working, but production hasn't been ramped up yet; they will hit the market in the second half of this year, which gives us time to explain what these fancy words mean. Shall we...?

The benefits

Before we get stuck into the nitty gritty of MOS transistors, what does Intel say their new 45nm, high-k metal gate family of processors provide?

The new 45nm lithography gives them around a 2x improvement in transistor density. So, take a 65nm chip and shrink it to 45nm and you'll have yourself a smaller die area. Alternatively, you can fit more transistors in the same die area.

With the help of high-k and metal gate technologies, transistor switching power is reduced by ~30%, and there's a 20% increase in switching speed too. Intel also say they've achieved a greater than 5x reduction in source-drain leakage power and a greater than 10x reduction in gate oxide leakage power, compared to current 65nm processes.

Denser chips, faster switching and less leakage are all good for performance/watt metrics, so Intel can build upon the improvements it made when it introduced the Core microarchitecture. Indeed, Core 2 Duo/Quad desktop processors and Xeon server/workstation processors will feature Penryn family cores.