They often say that the bigger a company gets, the more difficult it is to make sweeping changes to fix problems. Analogous to quickly turning a small boat vs. a large tanker, no one would have ever expected Intel to change so quickly over the past several months.

It's not only on the performance side that we've seen tremendous change; after all, it just took a new architecture to do that. No, the change we're speaking of here is in how Intel conducts itself, how freely it shares information today and how very different the road to 45nm has been compared to the move to 90nm or 65nm.

Today Intel is announcing a number of details on its 45nm process node, including official details on the first family of 45nm processors due out later this year. The announcements themselves, as you will soon see, are impressive enough, but arguably more interesting is the amount of detail Intel is giving away at this point. In the past we've had to go to sources other than official Intel channels for this sort of information, but that has all changed with the new Intel.

On track for first production by the end of 2007 with the Penryn family of processors (mobile, desktop and server), is Intel's 45nm manufacturing process. As with any move to smaller transistors, the 45nm node will make chips smaller and run faster. Intel is actually seeing good feature scaling with its 45nm process, quoting a ~2x improvement in transistor density. In other words, if you took a 100mm^2 65nm chip and built it on Intel's 45nm process, it would be roughly a 50mm^2 chip after the shrink. While logic and cache structures generally end up scaling very well with a process shrink, I/O structures (e.g. main memory interface circuits) don't which is why the improvement in transistor density is roughly and not exactly 2x.

Of course, in the past Intel has usually coupled new process technology with more features so you shouldn't expect to see 45nm Penryn chips as simply smaller Core 2 Duos. We will look at Penryn's die in a moment, but a larger cache, SSE4 and other unannounced microarchitectural enhancements can be expected.

The story of Intel's 45nm process doesn't end with details on its feature scaling however. Intel has made some fairly significant changes to the transistors themselves that make them more efficient than normal.

More Efficient Transistors
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  • Pythias - Saturday, January 27, 2007 - link

    Thats good. We don't want anyone in this race "doomed". Reply
  • stmok - Saturday, January 27, 2007 - link

    Agreed. We don't want to return to the era of a "one horse race" and prices are high!

    They must challenge each other and as the end-users, we cheer for falling of prices! :)
    Reply
  • cornfedone - Saturday, January 27, 2007 - link

    When you've been getting your butt kicked for over two years by AMD and your response is to add cache to inferior CPU designs, everyone pretty much knows you're desperate for good press. Intel's 65nano hype is being closely followed by their 45 nano hype as the never ending Intel PR machine marches on. Intel knows full well that Barcelona will trump Clovertown so they are trying to convice the naive that Intel is the future and not to be swayed by AMD's superior CPU architecture ready to break cover. When all the hype is said and done you can expect AMD to be doing just fine thank you and still providing leading edge CPUs for the masses. Reply
  • verndewd - Sunday, January 28, 2007 - link

    the walk is the walk,Intel is dominating the perf turf.We all like to see equality in competition,but sometimes its not accessible.K8 had a great run,and it was an eyeopener for intel.At the same time i think its awesome to see intel flex their intelligence and dominate so decisively.I am an am2 user,I just love how this perf war is turning the tech world into an incredible battle of intelligence. Reply
  • Bonesdad - Saturday, January 27, 2007 - link

    Cramitpal? Is that you? Reply
  • shabby - Saturday, January 27, 2007 - link

    Can you post some barcelona benchmarks? Thanks. Reply
  • stmok - Saturday, January 27, 2007 - link

    cornfedone is the same weirdo that talks about putting hackers in jail when it comes to breaking DRM!

    Seriously, you have to be pretty passionate about AMD to say something like this.

    I personally don't care of brand. I flip-flop to any brand, as long as they meet my requirements on specifc roles.

    I usually I wait until Anandtech and TechReport starts publishing benchmarks before forming an opinion. (Although I wish they did more Linux articles!)
    Reply
  • bamacre - Saturday, January 27, 2007 - link

    LOL, looks like some hasn't sold their AMD stock and moved their money into Intel. Better hurry. :D Reply
  • Viditor - Saturday, January 27, 2007 - link

    quote:

    looks like some hasn't sold their AMD stock and moved their money into Intel


    I think selling AMD to buy Intel is a really bad idea...as is the opposite.
    Neither stock is going to go up for awhile, and they're both going to do the same as long as the price war continues...
    Reply
  • bamacre - Saturday, January 27, 2007 - link

    I disagree. I predict Intel's stock to climb 80% in 12 months. Assuming no terrorist attacks, invasion of Iran. If somone nukes Nigeria, however, that number will be closer to 125%. Reply

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