In a bid to meet unprecedented demand towards its products, Intel Corp. had to quickly ramp up production using both 32nm and 45nm process technologies. While this allows the company to meet the demand towards the new products, this will slow down completion of transition to 32nm process technology.
“We are building more 32nm [chips] in the second half than we had planned six months ago; we are also building more 45nm in the second half than we planned six months ago. The result is that we will have more 45nm [products] longer than we first thought, even though 32nm [share] is growing faster and bigger than we first thought. The basic – the answer here is that the market is bigger than we had first done planning on for the year,” said Paul Otellini, chief executive officer of Intel, during the most recent quarterly conference call with financial community.
The ramp up of 32nm process technology in general is faster than Intel planned. However, the demand forces the company to build more chips produced using 45nm fabrication process, for example, quad-core Intel Core i7 microprocessors based on Bloomfield and Lynnfield cores in LGA1366 and LGA1156 form-factors.
Although it will take more time for Intel to fully transit to 32nm process technology, the ramp up of 32nm fabs will help the company to quickly boost production of its next-generation Sandy Bridge microprocessors. As reported earlier, Intel has aggressive plans to ramp up of the next-gen chips on the desktops market. Mr. Otellini confirmed the plan and expressed very high expectations for the forthcoming products.
“Last quarter I mentioned that we were broadly sampling [Sandy Bridge] product to our customers. I am more excited about Sandy Bridge than I have been on any product that the company has launched in a number of years. Due to the very strong reception of Sandy Bridge, we have accelerated our 32nm factory ramp, and have raised our CapEx guidance to enable us to meet the anticipated demand. […] At our September IDF conference in San Francisco, we will share more details about this new architecture,” said Mr. Otellini.
According to unofficial information, already in Q1 2011, Intel plans to rather substantially increase the share of its Sandy Bridge chips among desktop processors to around 12% - 13% (~6% - Core i7, ~5% - Core i5, ~2% - Core i3). In Q2 2011 the share of Sandy-Bridge-based processors will be even greater since Intel intends to release Pentium processors powered by the new micro-architecture for entry-level markets and they usually require high volumes.
The key feature of Sandy Bridge Intel AVX (Advanced Vector Extensions) which, when used by software programmers, will increase performance in floating point, media, and processor intensive software, according to the Intel. Key features of Intel AVX include wider vectors, increasing from 128 bit to 256 bit wide, resulting in up to 2x peak FLOPs output; enhanced data rearrangement, resulting in allowing data to be pulled more efficiently, and three operand, non-destructive syntax for a range of benefits. Intel AVX can also increase energy efficiency beyond the increases brought by the micro-architectural innovations, and is backwards compatible to existing Intel processors.