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


View All Comments

  • Viditor - Tuesday, January 30, 2007 - link


    hey, lets compare the OC of a 65 nm AMD chip to the OC of an Intel 65 nm chip

    OK...I choose Barcelona!
    God I love these macho/nerd takes me bake to my College days of D&D with Tequila shooters! (just be careful with that Intel +5 Vorpal Blade though!)


    Intel has removed the major stumbling block for device scaling that has plagued both 90 and 65 nm

    Huh? The stumbling block for scaling is Intel's platform (FSB)...
  • verndewd - Sunday, January 28, 2007 - link

    lets make it fair and get a 65nm firstgen intel D900 series ,ultimately thats where the real comparison is at.(dont you wish it were that simple? hehehe)
    unfortunately Thats not the current market due to amd transitioning later than intel.The new york times said 9 months,but the first 65nm intels arrived late in 05.How is that for curious?
  • archcommus - Saturday, January 27, 2007 - link

    Yeah, don't be a fanboy, buy whatever is the best purchase. My area of concern is that if AMD won't be delivering on par with Intel, it allows Intel to charge a price premium UNLIKE this past summer where we were lucky to see fierce price wars. If Intel gets too far ahead it could very well go back to the old days of Intel being the expensive mainstream chip and AMD being the cheaper choice for the DIYer. Reply
  • Regs - Saturday, January 27, 2007 - link

    All I see is Intel advancement and AMD's foggy future. Reply
  • SunAngel - Saturday, January 27, 2007 - link

    murder by numbers Reply
  • smn198 - Monday, January 29, 2007 - link


    100 * 100 =10,000
    50 * 50 = 2,500

    That's a 4x improvement, not a 2x!


    Also, the Intel Xeon ad appears on top of the article text. Really need to get my ad removing plug-in installed again.
  • bombledmonk - Monday, January 29, 2007 - link

    it's 100mm^2, not 100mmx100mm. same for the 50mm^2 Reply
  • bombledmonk - Monday, January 29, 2007 - link

    whoops, wrong quote, and it had been answered below... Reply
  • shaunmarsh - Saturday, July 28, 2012 - link

    This article is very good & informative.I have gain so much information from this blog.I like your blog.Thanks for the post.I am waiting for your new post. Reply

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