Intel Penryn Chips Finally Show Up

The much anticipated 45 nanometer scale Penryn chip from Intel will be formally announced today in at an event in San Francisco.  Shrinking circuit size from 65 nanometer is great, but the big news about the processor  might be what it's made from. Instead of silicon dioxide, the Penryn will be made from a material called hafnium.

The new materials for making transistors, meanwhile, can increase their switching speeds by more than 20% while reducing their power consumption by about 30%, Intel estimates.

Intel's latest chip designs have other features to raise efficiency. Performance increases, compared with earlier models, average 7% to 13% at the same clock speed, Mr. Perlmutter says. But gaming enthusiasts are equally excited about the prospect of greater increases in clock speeds to make programs run faster.

Intel's new $999 quad-core model for high-end PCs, called the Core 2 Extreme QX9650, is being introduced at an initial clock speed of three gigahertz. But Kelt Reeves, president of gaming-PC maker Falcon Northwest, said he has been able to use a technique called overclocking to operate the chip at four gigahertz -- boosting performance by a third -- with little increase in power consumption. That suggests Intel's manufacturing process has "headroom to burn" in developing faster models later, he said.

Besides the gaming version, Intel is announcing 15 Xeon models for server systems, priced from $177 to $1,279, with clock speeds of up to 3.4 gigahertz.

HotHarware's own Marco Chiappetta got a sneak peek at the new technology here. AMD better hurry up.

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