Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have created a method to calculate how different degrees of strain affect electronic structures in silicon. Sound confusing? Well, truthfully it is, but it could soon bring you new CPUs that produce much less heat and use less power.
Today’s strained silicon is very limited. This is mostly caused by the techniques that are in place to create it, and the physics of strain (which still haven’t been fully mapped out). But, thanks to a team of dedicated researchers led by Max Lagally, the Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at UW-M, this is all about to change.
The creation process, which previously didn’t always provide a uniform stretch of the silicon across the surface of the chip, has been drastically changed thanks to the research of Legally’s team. Having mapped out the effects of strain on electric structures in silicon, they finally understand why there are drastic increases and decreases in electron mobility from sheet to sheet. This will allow them a more uniform creation process that will produce more predictable results.
To produce their samples they stretched out films of silicon for research. “Imagine [attaching] a ring and a hook to all four corners [of a piece of thin film silicon] and pulling equally on all four corners like a trampoline,” said Legally, “it stretches out like that.”
Should this research come full circle, there’s no doubt that we’ll all reap the rewards.
At long last, power users have a plethora of performance numbers to ponder now that Intel has lifted its NDA on Core i7 benchmarks. But even though the first batch of benches show the new architecture living up to the hype, AMD isn't packing its bags and going home. On the contrary, the rival chip maker has a slew of 45nm chips coming out, starting this month.
Citing sources at un-named motherboard makers, DigiTimes reports AMD will launch a pair of 45nm quad-core desktop CPUs (Deneb) designed for AM2+ systems this month. The Phenom X4 20550 will come clocked at 3GHz and the 20350 at 2.8GHz. A series of 45nm triple-core chips are also on the way, though these won't start shipping until Q1 2009. These chips include the 14x00, 12x00, and 1xx00e series. On the high end, AMD plans to launch six 45nm quad-core Deneb chips and four entry-level Propus chips in the same time frame.
All the new releases could potentially have AMD competing with its upcoming dual-core Athlon X2 processors. To prevent this scenario from playing out, AMD will delay shipping its 45nm AM3-based dual-core parts (Regor) until Q3 2009.
The new processors will also lead to price cuts within AMD's existing product line as the chip maker looks to clear its inventory. If you're an AMD-loyal, keep your eyes peeled for some tantalizing deals on Phenom processors this holiday shopping season and beyond.
Intel’s current lineup of desktop and laptop processors are currently being built with a 45nm process, a process which AMD is only now catching up with. It appears however that the race continues as Intel plans to unveil its new 32nm process technology on December 15th at the International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM). 32nm might sound like nothing new, and in actuality the technology was first showcased back in 2007. At the time however, little was revealed and the company didn’t give many details as to the process itself. According to recent information Intel will share the specifics for the first time at IDEM and we expect to hear an announcement on new processors as well. The first platform is is rumored to be codenamed ‘Westmere’ which should hit the market in late 2009. Westmere however, is expected to be little more than a die shrink of Nehalem.
New features of the 32nm manufacturing process are expected to include second-generation high-k/metal gate technology, and nine levels of low-k interconnect dielectrics. According to the EE Times, Intel tested its new process by building a 32nm, 291-Mbit SRAM array test chip which has a cell size of 0.171-micron2. It houses over 2 billion transistors and has an array density of 4.2-Mbit2. The chip managed to run at an impressive 3.8 GHz while requiring only a meager 1.1v. Given the amount of time Intel has been working on this process experts expect commercialization next year to be highly plausible. The die shrinks will have the greatest benefits for mobile computing as it will boot performance while lowering the voltage requirements and the amount of heat generated. The future for mobile computing is bright indeed.
Last week we looked at the financial results for AMD which reported a fairly positive financial outlook. Even though the company was still losing money, they had managed to bring loses under control and investors were most likely hoping Q4 2008, or Q1 2009 would see the chip maker return to profit. These hopes are slowing being dashed by new market share numbers which according to Mercury Research saw AMD’s total share drop to 17.7 percent. This is a drop from 18.8 percent in the second quarter, and a huge plunge from 25.3 percent they enjoyed in the fourth quarter of 2006.
According to Mercury a large contributor to AMD’s drop is the shift from desktop processors to mobile. For the first time, shipments of mobile parts have exceeded their desktop counterparts in the CPU market. A market where Intel is extremely dominate. AMD drastically needs to improve innovation in the laptop arena if it is to slow Intel who is posting record breaking revenues. The processor market on a whole grew 13.3 percent and according to researchers, seems to be somewhat immune to the chaos in the financial markets. AMD managed to bring about a modest increase in the server and notebook markets but this is more the result of the market growth rather than share gains. AMD’s stock price has dropped to $3.03 in afterhours trading, down from its 52 week high of $13.80.
Do you think AMD can bounce back? Hit the jump and let us know.
Out with the old and in with the new. That's what Intel's doing with its Xeon server line of processors, as the chip maker announced in a product change notification (PCN) to customers that it plans to phase out 31 different retail boxed dual- and quad-core Xeons built around the Core architecture on a 65nm manufacturing process as it transitions to 45nm.
Specifically, six Woodcrest dual-core Xeons (5120, 5150, LV5148, 5110, 5130, 5140, 5160) and nine Cloverton quad-core Xeons (E5310, E5320, L5320, E5335, L5335, E5345, X5365, X5355) are getting the axe, in addition to variations in each lineup to bring the total up to 31, TGDaily reports.
Once supply of the boxed versions run out, customers will no longer be able to order the 65nm chips though tray units will still be made available, albeit with a shorter warranty through the reseller and without a bundled heatsink/fan.
Rumor has it that Intel will finally launch its Core i7 platform on November 17, just under a month from now, with a handful of processors clocked from 2.66GHz (Core i7-920) on up to 3.2GHz (Core i7-965XE). That date can't come quick enough for enthusiasts who have patiently put off building a new PC or upgrading an existing one. But if you're also waiting for a mobile version of Intel's new architecture, get cozy because it might be awhile.
Codenamed Clarksfield, Intel says the mobile version won't even go into production until the second half of 2009, and it's anyone's guess as to how long after that the chips will be made available commercially. The news doesn't come as a total surprise, however, as Clarksfield will be a main component in the next version of Intel's Centrino platform, keeping in mind that Centrino 2 is barely out of the silicon womb.
AMD posted better-than-expected earnings on Thursday and proved to its chief rival Intel that they may be down, but not out. The company which has been losing money for some time now managed to make a respectable 13 cents per share which far outstripped analyst expectations of a 39 cent loss. This is good news for AMD, but the semi conductor giant isn’t out of hot water just yet. The company still posted a $67 million dollar loss, though when you compare this to the $396 million it shed in the same quarter last year it suddenly doesn’t seem so bad.
Not surprisingly, sales and margins improved mostly on the back of its graphics chip division which has made significant gains in market share at the expensive of Nvidia. Revenues rose to $1.78 billion again pulling ahead of analyst expectations of a meager $1.48 billion. AMD has stated that it expects fourth quarter earnings to be flat, and given its current processor lineup vs. Intel, not losing any further market share will indeed be a challenge. The recent announcement that will split the company in two won’t take effect until year end. AMD stock is currently trading at $4.21 down almost 50% since the beginning of the year.
On the desktop front, quad-core processors continue to drop in price and it might not be long before dual-core chips get cast aside in the same manner single-core CPUs have been. But in the mobile world, it's another story. Dual-core computing is still where it's at and that doesn't appear to be changing in the next few months.
Citing un-named sources among mother makers, DigiTimes says Intel plans to launch five low wattage processors intended for notebooks on December 28, and only one of them is a quad-core chip. Intel's Core 2 Duo T9800 (2.93GHz, 6MB, 35W) , P9600 (2.66GHz, 6MB, 25W), T9550 (2.66GHz, 6MB, 35W), and T8700 (2.53GHz, 3MB, 25W) are set to debut to at $530, $348, $316, and $241 respectively in thousand-unit trays. Intel will also release a Core 2 Quad Q9000 (2GHz, 6MB, 45W) for $348 (also in thousand-unit trays).
At least one other processor will see a price reduction as a result of the new chips. The P8600 - Intel's current flagship Core 2 Duo CPU - will drop from $241 to $209 in January of 2009.
The wait is almost over for anyone who has been anticipating Intel's upcoming processor lineup based on the Nehalem architecture. Citing un-named "industry sources," TGDaily says the new processors will launch on November 17, a little over one month from now. That won't be a paper launch either, as Intel CEO Paul Otellini said during the company's Q3 quarter conference call that Core i7 processors have already begun shipping.
While nothing is yet official, rumors regarding the three desktop processors expected to make the initial Core i7 debut remain unchanged from earlier speculation. These include the Core i7-965XE clocked at 3.2GHz, Core i7-940 clocked at 2.93GHz, and Core i7-920 clocked at 2.66GHz. According to those same sources, pricing in thousand tray quantities will be set at $999, $562, and $284 for the 965XE, 940, and 920 respectively.
Also coinciding with the desktop parts, Intel is expected to release high-performance server chips codenamed Nehalem-EP.
AMD earlier this week announced plans to split into separate design and manufacturing companies. As part of the split, AMD will retain 44.4 percent ownership in the spinoff of its manufacturing plant - temporarily called The Foundry - with the Abu Dhabi government-formed Advanced Technology Investment Company owning the rest.
Just hours after the announcement was made, Intel said it was investigating whether or not the new company violates a chip licensing agreement it has with AMD. Under terms of the original agreement, AMD has been allowed to use Intel's x86 chip instruction set in exchange for paying Intel a royalty. According to AMD, nothing has changed that would invalidate the cross-licensing.
"We are completely confident the structure of this transaction takes into account our cross-license agreements," Phil Hughes, and AMD spokesman, wrote in an email. "Rest assured - we plan to continue respecting Intel's intellectual property rights, just as we expect them to respect ours."
Not all financial experts agree with AMD's assessment. Hans Mosesmann, a financial analyst with Raymond James, believes AMD probably is violating the cross-license agreement, but doesn't necessarily believe Intel would turn it into a legal matter. Instead, Mosesmann writes that Intel may choose to use it as leverage to "entice AMD to drop the anti-trust suits against Intel in return for this altruistic gesture."