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Intel Makes First 45nm Chips

Intel claimed this week it has become the first manufacturer to make chips using 45-nanometer technology.

While the chips made were RAMs that the company does not plan to produce, Intel said it proves the viability of its leading-edge manufacturing technologies as it moves to make microprocessors ever smaller.

“Achieving this milestone means Intel is on track to manufacture chips with this technology in 2007 using 300mm wafers, and continues the company’s focus on pushing the limits of Moore’s Law, by introducing a new process generation every two years,” Intel said in a statement.

The new process is a generation ahead of Intel’s latest manufacturing capabilities and two generations ahead of the technology found in most x86 PCs and servers today.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel is currently in the process of migrating CPU manufacture from its current but aging 90nm technology -- wherein circuit wires are 90nm across -- down to its 65nm process chip fabs, which have been coming on line over the past few months. In fact, the company now has two 65nm wafer fabs in production (one in Oregon and another in Arizona) and two more (in Oregon and Ireland) coming on line this year, Intel’s statement said.

The demonstration RAM chips built using the 45nm technologies each have a billion transistors, and the chips have five times lower power leakage than existing technology chips, according to Intel. “It is a key first step in the march toward high-volume manufacturing of the world’s most complex devices.”

Intel began construction of its first 45nm fab facility in Chandler, Arizona, last summer. That plant is scheduled to begin production of CPUs in late 2007. The company is also constructing a 45nm fab in Israel.

However, the demonstration manufacturing runs were done at one of Intel’s facilities in Oregon, the company said.

“[This] demonstrates technology performance, process yield and chip reliability prior to ramping processors and other logic chips using the 45nm manufacturing process [which] is a key first step in the march toward high-volume manufacturing of the world’s most complex devices,” Intel’s statement said.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.

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