Shrinking the Process

By eweek  |  Posted 2003-09-18 Print this article Print

Intel will soon becoming out with Prescott and Dothan, both built on 90-nanometer technology, and you have an aggressive road map for continuing to shrink your manufacturing process, down to 22 nanometers in 2011. How will this impact products that customers will be using? There are two perspectives on it. One is that we have been on this two-year heartbeat of process introduction for almost a decade and we do not see that changing. In fact, we see our ability to do that is becoming more precise and scientific as we look forward to 65, 45, 32, etc. When you think about that, you have the capital costs associated with that, the engineering investments to do so. We think that becomes one of our unique competitive advantages. We were clearly in front of the 130[-nanometer process], were well in front in the 90 nanometer, and we think that will be the case for the technologies in the future.
What we are working to do as a company is line up leading-edge process and manufacturing technology. That is the sum of what we do. Now theres a lot of innovations we do architecturally, with new interfaces, with new capabilities, etc., that are leading-edge products that utilize that new process of manufacturing technology. When we line up those two things together, were golden.
From the industrys perspective, what … has been the unwritten insurance policy for the entire technology industry has been the simplistic view of Moores Law—you get more for less. And that just continues forward at reasonably predictable rates. You get to decide how you utilize Moores Law. Its not like Intel has a proprietary lock on Moores Law. It works for everybody, but just says, "Hey, were going to be able to put more transistors in place at the same cost, at the same power budget, at the same size. I can make things smaller, I can make them faster, I can make them more integrated, I can make them lower cost, I get to play Moores Law whichever way my business or product interests work. But that becomes this underlying premise that the entire industry can build upon. If we stood up tomorrow and said, "Moores Law is not going to hold, its slowing down to once every three or four years," that would change the dynamics of every aspect of the industry. The foundry guys, that changes their model. The equipment providers, that changes their model. The software guys, that changes their model. But were saying with such bold confidence, "Were on track. The next decade, weve got it figured." Its not going to be easy. Theres a lot of innovations and a lot of problems we have to overcome, but we put that in place so that the industry can say, "OK, great, I can operate a certain way, make certain predictions, build certain business models [and] product plans around that." Thats not just critical for our business, but its the critical underpinning for the entire IT industry, and increasingly becomes the underpinning for the industry more broadly. Its not just the IT industry anymore, but what are the interesting innovations that are happening in transportation? They utilize silicon. What are the interesting things happening in medicine? Genomics and all of those things [are] based on computing. The interesting things that are happening in the geological sciences. How are people doing better mining or better exploration? Its all based on computers. More and more, the other industries that are built around computing become dependent on that same heartbeat.


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