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Intel Corp., the world’s largest maker of x86 central processing units, said that the first 45nm microprocessor’s design will be completed this quarter and the commercial shipments of such chips will begin in the second half of next year.

“Our factories have been executing extremely well with over 40 million 65nm processors now shipped and a crossover from 90nm now achieved. Our 45nm process development is on track for the second half of 2007 and we plan to tape out the first of fifteen 45nm processors this quarter,” said Paul Otellini, Intel’s chief executive during the discussion of the company’s financial results for the third quarter of fiscal 2006.

Tape-out refers to the release of the layout design package to the manufacturing fab for the creation of photolithographic masks. Practically it means that the chip developer is confident in the released design.

It was unclear which microprocessor Intel plans to tape out in Q4 2006.

During Intel Developer Forum Fall 2006 the world’s largest chipmaker revealed plans for more than 50 new SSE4 instructions, extending the Intel 64 instruction set architecture [formerly called IA32e – X-bit labs] “to better take advantage of Intel’s next-generation 45nm silicon manufacturing process and expand the performance and capabilities of Intel Architecture.”

Intel said that products, which code-names are presumably Wolfdale, Penryn, Yorkfield/Bloomfield as well as server chips, made using 45nm process technology will first appear in 2007 and will benefit a variety of applications, including those involving graphics, video encoding and processing, 3D imaging, gaming, web servers and application servers. The new chips will be based on the Core 2 micro-architecture.

Intel was originally expected to launch dual-core Wolfdale (for desktops) and dual-core Penryn (for laptops) processors made using 45nm process technology in 2008, according to earlier information. However, considering the recent progress with 65nm product shipments and ongoing progress with 45nm development, the company seemingly speeds up its roadmap. In addition to 45nm dual-core chips in 2007, there are rumours about single-die quad-core chip made using 45nm process technology in the Q3 2007.

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