IBM says 32nm processors will offer 35% more performance than 45nm parts

Chipmakers are always looking to move to smaller nanometer build processes. The smaller process allows them to get more chips on a single wafer and helps improve power efficiency and performance at the same time.

Current processors from Intel are using 45nm technology. IBM is leading an alliance of major semiconductor firms that includes Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing Ltd., Freescale Inc., Infineon Technologies AG, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd STMicroelectronics, and Toshiba Corp. in the development of a new High-K Metal gate material that promises to significantly improve the performance of microprocessors.

The new material being used is known as high-k/metal gate (HKMG) on silicon and is being manufactured at IBM’s 300mm semiconductor fab facility in East Fishkill, New York. The new HKMG process is allowing IBM to build circuits at 32nm. IBM says that this size reduction allows for 35% higher performance that similar chips made using 45nm technology. IBM also says that power savings on 32nm chips are from 30 to 50% compared to 45nm parts.

Gary Patton, vice president for IBM’s Semiconductor Research and Development Center said in a statement, “These early high-k/metal gate results demonstrate that by working together we can deliver leading-edge technologies that handily surpass others in the industry. Demonstrating this caliber of result in a practical environment means that as our collective client base moves to next-generation technology by using the 'gate-first' approach, they will continue to maintain a significant competitive advantage.”

IBM and its partners say that the new HKMG technology can be extended down to 22nm. This will lead to significant performance increases and power reductions in future chips made using the new HKMG technology.

IBM says that prototypes for the 32nm chips should be available starting in Q3 2008. Intel will be introducing its 45nm Nehalem chips later in 2008 and reports say Intel has plans for its own 32nm process in 2009.

“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls
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