Intel: New Manufacturing Process Will Give Product Lineup Some Juice


Chip giant Intel practically introduced the term "economies of scale" to the high-tech industry and the channel. Now the chip maker hopes to continue using those capabilities to hone, fine-tune and advance its product lineup.

By next year, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company says it will move to boost its economies of scale even further by rolling out a new manufacturing process that will enable it to produce smaller, better-performing chips in a more efficient manner. The advancement will bring Intel's manufacturing process from its current 90 nanometers to a sleeker, smaller 65 nanometers.

The technology change is significant for Intel. With the new 65-nanometer process, the company will be able to boost the number of transistors placed on a single chip to nearly a half-billion. This, in turn, will help Intel produce multicore processors in addition to adding power-saving function to the CPU, according
to the company.

Among other things, Intel is shooting to provide all-day battery life for notebooks by 2010--a development that will require heavy leverage of Moore's Law's demand that the number of transistors on a chip doubles about every two years.

In addition to the new process, Intel said it has also designed "sleep transistors" and implemented them into its 65-nanometer SRAM memory. These sleep transistors are designed to shut off the flow of electrical current to blocks of SRAM when they are not being used, which can eliminate a significant source of chip power consumption.

Economy of scale alone, however, isn't enough to dominate the entire market.

Rival Advanced Micro Devices, Sunnyvale, Calif., has managed to build its market share and presence even while trailing Intel in manufacturing capability. AMD's advances have led some solution providers to take a wait-and-see approach to Intel's new manufacturing process.

"[AMD] has a better price point; the performance seems to outperform Intel," said Patrick McNicholas, president of Maverick Computers, a Loxahatchee, Fla.-based system builder. "It's only been recently--the past couple of weeks--that we've been considering possibly using the Intel chipset."