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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.

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PS3 slim in 2009?
By daftrok on 4/16/2008 12:32:07 PM , Rating: 3
It would be sooner than expected, but here are some interesting trends:

When the Playstation 1 was released in 1995 in the US, a slim version came out in 2000. Five year gap.

When the Playstation 2 was released in 2000 in the US, a slim version came out in 2004. Four year gap.

When the Playstation 3 was released in 2006 in the US, a slim version could come out in 2009. Three year gap.

What with Blu ray getting smaller laser diodes which could mean thinner drives and given that the Cell processor is one of IBM's projects, we could see a 32nm Cell chip in the not too distant future. And with hardware B.C. slowly disappearing, the Graphic Synthesizer might go the way of the dodo.

This could mean that by November 2009, there could be a slimmer PS3.

RE: PS3 slim in 2009?
By FITCamaro on 4/16/2008 12:51:05 PM , Rating: 2
You have to get the heat down on the RSX too buddy. Don't know about you, but I haven't heard much about reducing its size.

RE: PS3 slim in 2009?
By ajfink on 4/16/2008 1:11:07 PM , Rating: 2
Nor have I, but if Sony really wanted it in a smaller die size I'm sure they could make it happen.

RE: PS3 slim in 2009?
By weskurtz0081 on 4/16/2008 1:15:50 PM , Rating: 2
Sony doesn't FAB chips anymore, so it's pretty much up to the FAB that is making the silicon. I am sure Sony could have some influence on decisions, but, at the end of the day, it is out of there hands now.

RE: PS3 slim in 2009?
By deeznuts on 4/16/2008 2:11:59 PM , Rating: 2
Sony never Fab'd the RSX anyways, I don't think. It's an nvidia chip

RE: PS3 slim in 2009?
By daftrok on 4/16/2008 2:19:47 PM , Rating: 2
Wasn't the 8800 GT a 65 nm chip? I'm pretty sure they could do the same for the RSX chip. 65nm from 90nm is a major cut in power (more so than 45nm from 65nm).

RE: PS3 slim in 2009?
By ManuelX on 4/16/2008 2:19:06 PM , Rating: 4
Two points does not a trend make!

RE: PS3 slim in 2009?
By Cygni on 4/16/2008 4:24:48 PM , Rating: 2
IBM is likely after much, much larger fish than the PS3. Namely, a well ramped and cheaper produce successor to the z10/Power6 family. IBM's Power family of servers and mainframes pulls in over 8 BILLION a year in revenue for IBM... which is equal to Nintendos 2007 revenue as a company. (Of note, IBM also produces the Wii's CPU)

The new process will probably trickle down to its tech partners eventually, and a new revision of the Cell could be in the works... but i doubt thats really whats driving IBM.

RE: PS3 slim in 2009?
By Cygni on 4/16/2008 4:32:12 PM , Rating: 2
Forgot to also note that IBM designed the chips in ALL THREE of the major consoles. So skinnier Wiis and 360s are just as much a possibility as slimmer PS3s, especially considering that IBM also fabs the Wii's "Broadway" chip. (Charter handles the 360's "Falcon" and Toshiba produces the PS3's CBEA)

RE: PS3 slim in 2009?
By Clauzii on 4/18/2008 4:25:21 PM , Rating: 2
So melting the two main chips in the WII into one would be possible too. Even though I think the Wii IS pretty small already.

The RSX-chip is already the main power consuming device in the PS3 at ~50-60 Watt. It would be smart if the RSX could be shrunk to 45nm, bringing power usage down to under 30 Watt, making a slim PS3 using ~60-80 Watt possible. Stacking a bunch of these makes way for a nice supercomputer running on a normal wall outlet.

Here in Odense, DK, at the University, they made a cluster from (what I remember) 16 PS3's, and archieving so good performance that they opted for more machines. One of the reasons for the PS3's success in the scientific area might come from the fact that a lot of calculations are still done at a speedratio of ~4:1 compared to normal PC's. At 2/3 the Power usage and at ~half the price, for the hardware and at basically no cost in software, using linux, it's destined to get that success.

Now, if they would just open/unleash the RSX for calculations too, it would result in an almost perfect performance vs. power vs. cost ratio!

IBM's partners in the project include AMD
By Mitch101 on 4/16/2008 12:24:31 PM , Rating: 5
IBM's partners in the project include AMD , Chartered, Freescale, Infineon, and Samsung.

By HrilL on 4/16/2008 12:30:27 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah I thought that was missing when I read over their list. Hopefully AMD will be able to catch up to Intel one day. They need some spare cash though to get that done.

RE: IBM's partners in the project include AMD
By Khato on 4/16/2008 12:32:29 PM , Rating: 2
Why not look at the actual IBM press release? It's a rather interesting omission after all.

And why does this press release look like a pre-emptive 'me first' on the part of IBM? Because I think they're still a tad bit touchy about the fact that Intel's beating them to all the silicon innovation any more. Especially love the last paragraph about their 'introduction' of HiK/MG back in January of last year - it was a Saturday press release after Intel introduced a working CMOS process. At the time, IBM only had it working for the NMOS gates I believe it was.

RE: IBM's partners in the project include AMD
By rocketbuddha on 4/16/2008 1:41:41 PM , Rating: 2
I think AMDs partnership with IBM is for SOI technology only.

From the press TG Daily webpage

IBM has demonstrated the first SRAM chips manufactured using this process on CMOS, containing a 0.15 um2 cell size (picture on left)

This is bulk CMOS. The partners include Chartered, FreeScale, Samsung and Infineon. Not sure about Sony Toshiba as Cell is now SOI.

. They have also completed a similar SOI implementation which will be suitable for mass production of future multi-core processors.acheived with Bulk CMOS

This is the Alliance that AMD is on with Chartered too(AMDs foundry) and Sony, Toshiba.

My guess is that IBM uses the word Alliance too broadly. AMD would be partially footing the bill for R&D into SOI 32nm hiK while Freescale and Samsung would be for 32nm Bulk hiK.

That would explain why AMD said that it is attempting to introduce hiK if needed in its 45nm bcos per IBM they can only do it at 32nm. So either AMD has to find its own way to do hiK at 45nm or get that from anyother SOI manufacturer/alliance (none that I know of like IBM)


I think this article would shed more light.

In the pic we have Ann-32nm Bulk manager(sitting Left) and Effendi-32nm SOI Manager(sitting right)

RE: IBM's partners in the project include AMD
By rocketbuddha on 4/16/2008 1:47:45 PM , Rating: 2
PR Dated 14Apr08

AMD is absent from the press release. So my guess is the PR applies only to 32nm Bulk and not 32nm SOI

RE: IBM's partners in the project include AMD
By Mitch101 on 4/16/2008 2:00:05 PM , Rating: 2
I read it and good info rocketbuddha. I wonder if the person who posted the original PR release did a spell check and removed AMD thinking it was the word AND accidentally put there.

Being that its out of Fishkill, NY and AMD has workers in the IBM facility and with AMD eventually putting a fab plant there I have to stick to the idea this is a PR misprint.

No faulting daily tech either they took what they were given from the PR release as they should. Just in case someone thinks I am nit picking their article.

Might be worth asking AMD what gives? I cant see them sticking with low-k soi on 32nm.

By dnd728 on 4/16/2008 5:21:58 PM , Rating: 2
If somehow they're not inside, then they'll just license it later. Don't worry.

RE: IBM's partners in the project include AMD
By radializer on 4/16/2008 11:15:41 PM , Rating: 2
If I remember right, both the Intel and the IBM press releases came out late on a Friday afternoon and the media reception (tech and otherwise) was in line with your thought - that the IBM version at that time was a "me too" response.

In fact, if I remember correctly, one of IBM's execs made a comment at that time on the lines that comparing Intel's Hafnium based technology to IBM's technology would be equivalent to comparing "a can opener to a Ferrari" ... wow, talk about sour grapes/trash talk!

today announced that they have collectively demonstrated significant performance and power consumption advantages over industry standards by using a breakthrough material known as "high-k/metal gate” (HKMG) on silicon manufactured at IBM's state-of-art 300 millimeter (mm) semiconductor fabrication facility in East Fishkill, N.Y.

So IBM's breakthrough material itself is known as "high-k/metal gate" ... PR spin dumbed down for the masses? It's most probable that IBM is looking at alternates to HfO2-based oxides such as silicates or ternary/quaternary compounds, but the quote just struck me as amusing ... write it off as geek humor :-)

By Mitch101 on 4/17/2008 9:59:53 AM , Rating: 1
LOL Wow you mean UBER geek humor.

Dont use that as a pick up line unless your at a star trek convention.

By Hulk on 4/16/2008 1:25:27 PM , Rating: 2
They seem to be cutting edge process technology?

By retrospooty on 4/16/2008 11:17:25 PM , Rating: 2

Did I miss something
By ChipDude on 4/17/2008 12:46:01 AM , Rating: 3
Isn't INTEL shipping millions of 45nm with HighK and Metal gate already?

Didn't INTEL already announce fully functional 32nm with 2nd generation HighK and Metal gate already

Someone should tell Garry he is 2 years late!

Is this a press release?
By deeznuts on 4/16/2008 2:15:17 PM , Rating: 2
Is this article itself a press release? Where's the mention of Intel showing off running 32nm chips last fall?

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