Intel’s [INTC] announced details of its next-generation chips, fabricated using a 32nm process, due to go on sale late 2009–the chip’s transistors switch 22% faster and result in processors much smaller than the current 45nm generation.
The transistors adopt Intel’s unusual “high-k” design that improves their performance: this swaps silicon dioxide for hafnium in the insulating layer in the transistors, and incorporates metal in other components instead of silicon. For the first time for Intel, these new chips make use of a liquid-film immersion lithography process–the film improves the microscopic resolution of the lithographic process. Intel’s competitors made the switch to the technique in previous-generation chips, but Intel has kept it for the 32nm chips, whose smaller size and new design result in lower power consumption and faster speeds than previous 45nm chips.
At the same time, the company has revealed improved 45nm low-power chips, made with a variation of its existing 45nm process–a slightly unusual move in an industry where using the same manufacturing process across the range of products is usual to save costs. These chips are, of course, aimed squarely at the netbook processor market which is currently dominated by Intel’s existing Atom low-power chips.
It seems that the growing netbook market, and the aging Moore’s law will remain healthy for the next few years.