Intel Corp. plans to roll out its newest generation of processors Monday, flexing its manufacturing muscle with a sophisticated new process that crams up to 40 percent more transistors onto the company's chips. The world's largest semiconductor company expects to start shipping 16 new microprocessors — which also boast inventive new materials to stanch electricity loss — for use in servers and high-end gaming PCs. The most complex chips being launched Monday have 820 million transistors, compared with the 582 million transistors on the same chips built using the current standard technology. Intel's first chips, introduced in the early 1970s, had just 2,300 transistors.
Advances in chip technology occur as smaller and smaller lines are etched onto the chips. Intel's new chips shrink the width of those lines to an average of 45 nanometers, or 45 billionths of a meter, compared to 65 nanometers on the previous generation of chips. The smaller circuitry allows Intel to squeeze more transistors — the building blocks of computer chips — onto the same slice of silicon. That accelerates performance and drives down manufacturing costs. The transistors on the new chips are so small that more than 30 million of them can fit onto the head of a pin. Performance zooms ahead with smaller transistors because more of them are available, they twitch faster to process data and less energy is required to power them.
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