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Advanced Micro Devices announced it had begun production of chips using 90nm Silicon-on-Insulator process technology at its Fab 30 in Dresden, Germany. Despite of some information available from unofficial sources, AMD promises to deliver commercial products using this fabrication process next quarter.

“90nm process will be phased in with all the advanced features acquired during previous generations, including copper interconnect, a Black Diamond low-k technology and as an SOI process with the base wafers provided by Soitec SA,” said Thomas Sunderman, a director of manufacturing technology within AMD’s corporate manufacturing group, according to EETimes.

There are also plans to utilize strained-silicon technology, AMD is quoted as saying.

AMD’s 90nm Silicon-on-Insulator (SOI) fabrication process was “nearly fully qualified” in early March. The company is on-track with delivering its first production silicon in mid-April, as announced in early March. Actual commercial production of AMD’s 90nm processors were expected to start in July with availability of the actual products in “September-October-November” timeframe, it was initially said by AMD’s CFO. Advanced Micro Devices now also confirms these plans and intends to deliver commercial 90nm products in Q3 2004.

Thinner manufacturing technologies typically allow companies to shrink sizes of processors’ dies, to reduce power consumption and to improve yields of high-speed chips. While sizes of the Athlon 64 and Opteron cores will decrease with the transition to 90nm CPUs, it is not clear whether AMD will really push up the speeds of its products this year.

Engineering samples of AMD Athlon 64 4000+ and AMD Athlon 64 FX-55 processors presumably made using thin 90nm fabrication process will only show up in October 2004, while the mass production of these chips is scheduled for December 2004, not earlier, as anticipated previously. It takes chipmakers some time after the beginning of volume manufacturing of a certain product to supply the device to its clients in quantities enough to start sales. At least one month should pass after the beginning of mass production to actually launch the chips, if AMD wants to sell them straight away after the launch.

If the information about December production of 2.60GHz AMD64 parts is correct, AMD’s Athlon 64 3800+ and Athlon 64 FX-53 running at 2.40GHz will be the highest-performing 64-bit desktop processors this year. AMD may use 90nm or 130nm process technology for its chips at clock-speed of 2.40GHz or below. Availability of 2.60GHz products may be pushed forward into 2005.

AMD is expected to launch Athlon 64 3800+, Athlon 64 FX-53 and some other new chips in 939-pin packaging on May 25, 2004, sources said.

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