IBM Takes Step Toward 90-nm Chip Process

The company has begun work on making a processor for chip designer Xilinx using a 90-nanometer process.

IBM on Monday said it has taken another step forward in its push to create a 90-nanometer chip.

The company has begun work on making an FPGA (field programmable gate array) processor for chip designer Xilinx Inc., of San Jose, Calif.

Currently, IBM uses a 130-nm process to build its chips. However, using a 90-nm process would mean smaller transistors, which in turn could mean better forming chips containing more transistors than are on current processors.

Xilinx has sent IBM the data needed to map out the chip, according to IBM, in East Fishkill, N.Y. IBM will start making the new chip in volume in the second half of 2003 in its new $2.5 billion 300-mm chip-making facility, which began operations earlier this year.

IBMs announcement puts it in a race with Intel Corp. to build the first 90-nm chip. Intel, of Santa Clara, Calif., is working on a new Pentium chip, code-named Prescott, which it says will be made using a 90-nm process. The process used in making Prescott, which is expected to be released at about 3.2GHz in the second quarter of 2003, will enable Intel to cut its production costs.

IBM also expects production costs to be slashed, which will result in chips costing between 30 percent and 70 percent less than current processors, according to IBM.