The next significant upgrade to Intel's processor line for desktops, notebooks and servers will be 32-nanometer processors currently code-named Westmere. Intel plans a massive $7 billion dollar investment in its chip manufacturing facilities in the United States. Intel says it believes that the new processor will allow it to leapfrog rivals such as Advanced Micro Devices, which recently came out with its own 45-nm processors, although AMD does plan to produce a 32-nm chip eventually.
unveiled its new 32-nanometer working microprocessor for laptops and desktops
at a Feb. 10 event in San Francisco.
The chip giant said it plans to invest $7 billion over the next two years in
its 32-nm manufacturing technology, upgrading production facilities in New
CEO Paul Otellini announced the plan to upgrade facilities in a statement
on Feb. 10.
The new 32-nm chips, developed under the code name Westmere, offer increased
performance without an increase in the thermal envelope. Mobile and desktop
processor production will begin in the fourth quarter of 2009, with an
unspecified rollout date to follow.
The 32-nm chips will feature two processing cores and four instructional
threads, with integrated graphics. Chips for mainstream desktops are being
developed under the code name Clarkdale, while the processors for thin and
light notebooks are code-named Arrandale.
"With this 32-nm generation, we're making our largest-ever investment
in a single generation of silicon technology in the U.S.,"
Stephen Smith, vice president and director of group operations for Intel's
Digital Enterprise Group, said during the presentation. "Westmere-based
technology is not only for desktop and notebooks, but also some future server
Smith went on to refer to the 32-nm processor's robust product health,
stating that "our very first silicon on Westmere was capable of booting
and running on a PC." As a result, Intel has made the decision to
accelerate the 32-nm product ramp, he said.
In doing so, Intel has also deprioritized the development of 45-nm
processors, code-named Nehalem, which were previously coexisting in development
with the 32-nm processors. Intel rival Advanced Micro Devices recently released
a 45-nm processor.
"Intel's basically leapfrogged itself; there are just not that many
other 45-nm processors," John Spooner, an analyst with TBR, said in an
interview. "And they're doing it for a number of reasons: They want to
keep the performance lead they have now, and they're interested in reducing
Processors based on the 32-nm design allow Intel to manufacture more
processors on each silicon wafer, which increases the manufacturing output and
allows the company to spend less money.
"I view the announcement as [Intel] having its
foot to the floor," Spooner said. "Intel doesn't lose sight of the
horizon just because it had four bad quarters."
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.