Intel officials continue to think small when it comes to processors. At IDF, they discussed plans for a 22-nm processor next year and Atom chips at 15 nanometers down the road.
Intel's upcoming 32-nanometer "Sandy
Bridge" next-generation Core
architecture got much of the attention at the company's developer show this
week, but executives also gave attendees a glimpse of even smaller chips coming
down the road.
During his keynote
address at the Intel Developer Forum
in San Francisco
Sept. 13, CEO Paul Otellini said that the
company's "Ivy Bridge"
processor, a 22-nm chip, is on schedule and will be delivered in the second
half of 2011. The chips are already in sample production, he said.
"Last year at IDF, I showed you the first working wafer
with SRAM devices on it," Otellini said
during his talk. "This year, I'm happy to report that our first
microprocessor designed for 22 nanometers is moving through our fabs as we
speak here today."
Intel executives didn't give out much more information about Ivy
Bridge, but the timetable for the chip
was another indication of how aggressively the company is pushing the continued
shrinking of its chips as it seeks better performance and energy efficiency in
its products. If the schedule holds, Ivy
Bridge will appear months after
systems powered by Sandy Bridge
hit the market.
The road map also will keep Intel well ahead of rival Advanced
Micro Devices, which is due to roll out its first 32-nm processors in the
middle of next year.
Also at IDF, Intel reportedly unveiled a road map that showed
its Atom chip shrinking to as small as 15 nanometers. Currently the Atom chips
are made through a 45-nm manufacturing process.
Intel officials didn't say when the 15-nm Atoms will appear-the
next step is to get them to 32 nanometers, then 22.
A chart that Intel reportedly displayed during a technical
session at IDF showed a rapid growth of the number the Atom models. Currently,
there are six chip models in the 45-nm category. That will grow to 11 at
32 nanometers, 20 at 22 nanometers and 27 at 15 nanometers.
Intel launched the Atom platform two years ago, aimed at
netbooks and other small form factors. Now executives are looking to
aggressively expand the reach of the Atom chips, into such areas as tablets and
notebooks, handheld devices and embedded systems. That said, netbooks still
represent the bulk of Atom sales, Doug Davis, vice president and general
manager of Intel's Embedded and Communications Group, said in his IDF keynote
Sept. 14. According to Davis, Intel
has sold more than 70
million Atom units into netbooks
over the past two years.
He also unveiled the Atom E600 SoC (System-on-a-Chip), the
first in the new Atom E series for embedded devices.