Back in January this year our sister publication Bit-Tech took a look at Intel's upcoming 45nm process and the technology behind it. In March we were able to reveal some details about the retail products that that technology will be bringing us. Now Intel has revealed that, pending any disasters, it is only 45 days away from turning on its FAB 32 production plant and ramping up to full-scale production of 45nm, Penryn, processors.
OK, so the '45 Days To 45nm' is slightly cheesy, but that doesn't make the news any less exciting; 45nm is a huge step for Intel and indeed the CPU industry as a whole. For those unfamiliar with the details, Penryn brings with it the shift from the traditional silicon-diode CPU transistor and welcomes in High-K/Metal Gate.
High-K is a big deal, because without it, Intel would not be able to make the move to 45nm and even smaller in the future. Current transistor design would require a re-write of the laws of physics to stop the current leakage which, in a nutshell, would make a 45nm silicon-diode based CPU a $3 billion waste of time and money. It is High-K which makes Penryn, in my opinion at least, a much bigger breakthrough than Barcelona. Sure, native quad core is a a great achievement for AMD and we're undoubtedly going to see benefits, but in the long run High-K is almost analogous to the Unified Shader Model architecture for GPUs. Once its here everyone will wonder why we didn't make the step sooner.
The $3 billion figure above, by the way, is how much Intel has invested in constructing Fab 32, the building of which started two years ago, in preparation for Penryn. Intel has a history of thinking ahead in this way and let's face it, can afford to in a way AMD just can't right now. Back to Fab 32; Nick Knupffer, who announced this news, promises that we can expect something pretty exciting to accompany the official opening of Fab 32 on the 26th of October. Get counting.