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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  • Viditor - Tuesday, January 30, 2007 - link


    I predict Intel's stock to climb 80% in 12 months

    It's amazing the number of people who have said that since Conroe was introduced...
    In point of fact, Intel has dropped over the last year...
    Frankly, neither Intel nor AMD will be making much headway while there's a price war on, though AMD will probably regain their losses in the second half of the year.
    Intel shares should be close to what they are now in a year (unless of course AMD has a terrorist attack) because (as they guided) their Gross Margins aren't expected to rise at all over the next year.
  • blackbrrd - Tuesday, January 30, 2007 - link

    Actually Intel released the Core 2 Duo around Jul. 2006. At the time a share was worth around 18$ The current value on an Intel share is roughly 21$ (Jan. 30th 2007). In other words an increase of about 16% since they released the Core 2 Duo. Reply
  • Viditor - Tuesday, January 30, 2007 - link

    Most of that was seasonality...
    At the beginning of 2006, Intel was $ year-on-year (and in a year that Intel released and had 6 months of Conroe), Intel dropped ~20%...

    The key point is that while technology is important, Gross Margins are far MORE important!
  • BladeVenom - Saturday, January 27, 2007 - link

    I wouldn't be so bullish on Intel until you've seen AMD's next chip. Reply
  • bamacre - Saturday, January 27, 2007 - link

    I'm not worried about it. Intel is serious about being the performance leader right now. They know they have made mistakes, and they know what they have to do to keep the crown. And they also have the tools to keep it. Whatever AMD comes out with, Intel will counter. Just watch. Reply
  • Slappi - Saturday, January 27, 2007 - link

    Wow 125%? You must of mortgaged your house and bought Jan 2009 calls then with all your money.

    Market Cap of 250-300 billion dollars for a company with falling margins, losing market share and estimates of 1.20-1.30 for 2007. That would give them a PE of 32 for a company in the middle of a price war.

    I don't think so.

    I wouldn't short or buy INTEL at this point. No Way. Too unpredictable right now. 35 to 45 within a year? Even if AMD went bankrupt and closed its doors I doubt you would see 45 in 12 months.

    I would however buy AMD and sell CCs on em around 17-18. R600 K8L should do them for around 18 in the next 6 months. You could make good money selling calls 10% out for a few months.
  • bamacre - Sunday, January 28, 2007 - link

    "falling margins, losing market share "

    That is changing as I type.
  • hubajube - Monday, January 29, 2007 - link


    That is changing as I type.
    No it's not. He's spot on.
  • yyrkoon - Saturday, January 27, 2007 - link

    Spoken like a true, disgruntled AMD fan boi. (or 'person' if you like). When will you guys learn, it doesn't matter WHO makes the 'best' CPU, and that close competition means win, win, for whoever, using whatever. Reply
  • JumpingJack - Sunday, January 28, 2007 - link


    Spoken like a true, disgruntled AMD fan boi. (or 'person' if you like). When will you guys learn, it doesn't matter WHO makes the 'best' CPU, and that close competition means win, win, for whoever, using whatever.

    Yep, don't like one bit do they ---- hey, lets compare the OC of a 65 nm AMD chip to the OC of an Intel 65 nm chip ....

    Intel has removed the major stumbling block for device scaling that has plagued both 90 and 65 nm.... it only get's better from here.

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