Courtesy of Intel, this image shows just how small a 45nm chip is compared to a US dime.
In just 44 days, Intel's Fab 32 production facility in Arizona will awaken with a new purpose in life
. That purpose? To start cranking out high-k and metal gate based 45 nanometre processors which will lead to faster, yet cooler computing.
As Tim explained earlier this year
, high-k and metal gate transistors are a great step away from today's use of a silicon dioxide as a dielectric. High-k gates use Hafnium-based material as a dielectric which allows the die to be shrunk even further without risking a massive amount of current leakage that happens with current materials.
Current silicon gate electrodes aren't compatible with this new material so Intel's R&D has had to design a new metal electrode in order to solve the problem. Right now though, the company is keeping the exact metals being used under wraps but we're bound to find out eventually.
Basically what all of this means is that Intel will be able to shrink transistor sizes even further in the future with less current leakage in the chips. This, in turn, will lead to faster, cooler processors that are more power efficient than current processors. The first core that will use this new production process is the "Penryn" which is a refresh of the current "Core" microarchitecture.
"Penryn" won't just be a simple convert over to the new manufacturing process either as it will have 50 new SSE4 instructions, new power features, and more L2 cache then ever before. When "Penryn" launches later this year, it is already set to bring processing to a whole new level from what we know it today.
Excited about where this new production process could lead us in the future? Mark your thoughts over in the forums
or in the comment section below.