Tying it all together

Currently Intel’s processors are manufactured on a 0.18-micron process, and as we just discussed that refers to the circuit size. Next year, Intel will be shipping their first 0.13-micron parts in the first half of 2001 (we’re expecting that in the second quarter). As Intel has done for the past two generations of processors, this 0.13-micron process will debut first on their mobile processors.

The yield on any given process is lower upon the process’ introduction and increases as the manufacturing of the process matures. This is why Intel debuts all new manufacturing processes in a lower demand area (mobile processors) before moving it over to the desktop and workstation processors as well.

Before we get to what this means in terms of Intel’s future processors, let’s take a look at the actual reduction in size that the 0.13-micron process brings us. This development comes from Intel’s largest entity with 4000 workers: the Technology and Manufacturing Group (TMG).

It is from this group that we not only get the improved manufacturing processes, but we also get quite a bit of materials research from this part of Intel as well. Such as the decision to make the move to Copper interconnects with the 0.13-micron process, a decision that AMD actually beat Intel to with their 0.18-micron process.

TMG’s forecasts indicate that Intel’s manufacturing goal is for a 30% shrink in transistor size every 2 years. This results in the manufacturing forecast represented below:

Manufacturing Process Forecast
Process Name
Circuit Size
Gate Length

To illustrate exactly how small a the 0.07-micron process is, Intel uses the comparison: transistors as small as DNA. While that statement does have its flaws, let's have a look at a picture of this comparison first before extracting the truth from it.

John Jackson & Inman. Gene 1989 84 221-226.

Here we have a picture of a 0.01-micron (10nm) Gold particle attached to a Z-DNA antibody.

And now we have a transistor with a gate length of 30nm or 0.03-microns, just three times as the Gold particle attached to the Z-DNA antibody from the picture above.

Hitting switches Does the 0.13-micron Pentium 4 spell success?
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  • SlyNine - Wednesday, August 18, 2010 - link

    It'll be much much longer then we all thought. :P
  • cdurkinz - Monday, June 29, 2020 - link

    You had no idea.... Just checking in, another decade on from when this article released! ;)
  • karasaj - Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - link

    They're 7 years overdue! :)

    History really is interesting.
  • Shahnewaz - Sunday, April 12, 2015 - link

    It has been 10 years and the only processor even remotely close enough to 10GHz is an AMD FX-9590@5GHz.
    No, you're not realistically speaking. At least not Intel.
  • name99 - Monday, February 29, 2016 - link

    IBM z12 clocked at 5.5GHz, and IBM has claimed POWER8 runs at 5GHz (though I don't know if they've ever sold those on the open market).

    Back in the day (2007) POWER6 WAS sold at 5GHz, and IBM claimed they had versions running at 6GHz (which they may well have sold not on the open market).
  • NJCompguy - Monday, February 29, 2016 - link

    15 years later, we can now have facial recognition on a Surface Pro 4 to log in! Yay for the fast pace!! lol
  • name99 - Monday, February 29, 2016 - link

    "These are things that Intel is claiming will be possible by 2005 with the type of processors that will be available in desktop systems.... Intel is working very hard in developing the software that will help make these visions a reality. "

    Let's all remember this next time Intel predicts something, anything. Intel has three skills
    - process/manufacturing
    - circuit design
    - micro-architecture design.
    Unfortunately NOT on that list are things like
    - software design
    - ISA design
    - vision for the future, and prediction

    Which means you're going to be in a bubble if you live in the Intel world. That was obvious here with the absolute lack of mention of any other manufacturer (TSMC was 13 yrs old in 2000), and the lack of mention of other uses of CPUs (Apple Newton was 7 yrs old in 2000). Instead of asking what better processes might enable in less powerful machines, all we get is the question "how do we do more of the same?" The question to ask, usually, should NOT be "what do I do with a 10x faster processor" but "what do I do with a 100x CHEAPER" processor" or what do I do with a "100x lower power processor?"
    The post-iPhone revolution has broken through this bubble in some respects, but not all. Almost everyone is willing to concede that CPUs in cell-phone are important, interesting, and worth following. But we get the same blindness when it comes to the next shrink in size, whether its smartwatches or IoT. And we get an absolute blindness when it comes to the idea of substantially restructured OSs, substantially restructured languages (and development paradigms) --- apparently we're going to be using UNIX-like OS's and C/C++ for the next hundred years...
  • Dr AB - Saturday, May 9, 2020 - link

    Yes I agree .. it seems like they were totally limited in thinking because of living entirely in "intel world".
    For future yes thats what happening everyone is just following the "trends", too scared to do something of the box or taking an entirely different approach. In smartphones yes every year or so there are only performance/efficiency improvements that look so negligible in "real world" scenarios. More like 50 years from now nd looking back at the current era, feeling would be the same : "How the heck we are still stuck in the same ancient technology introduced years ago nd only recently has been implemented in a productive way." Thats what happen when I read some article from 20 years back.
  • zerghumper - Wednesday, February 8, 2017 - link


    Much. Much longer. :(
  • PanZhang - Thursday, February 27, 2020 - link

    It takes me 15 years to realize that a dream may never come ture.

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