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Intel Corp. on Tuesday said it was developing an ultra-low power derivative of its high-performance 65nm logic manufacturing process that would enable production of “very low-power” chips for mobile platforms and small-form factor devices. The ultra-low power process will be Intel’s second process based on 65 nm process technology, though, the company did not unveil when the new fabrication technology is to be commercially used.

Intel’s high-performance 65nm process provides both power consumption and performance benefits over Intel’s current 90nm process technology. The company's new ultra-low power 65nm process provides Intel chip designers additional options in delivering the circuit density, performance and power consumption required by users of battery-operated devices, the company said. This is the first time when the largest maker of semiconductors in the world develops a technology for specific microprocessors. Earlier the company used similar fabrication processes for its central processing units.

Intel’s ultra-low power, 65nm process technology includes several key transistor modifications which enable delivery of low power benefits while providing industry-leading performance. These transistor modifications result in significant reductions in the three major sources of transistor leakage: sub-threshold leakage, junction leakage and gate oxide leakage. The benefits of reduced transistor leakage are lower power and increased battery life.

“With the number of transistors on some chips exceeding one billion, it is clear that improvements made for individual transistors can multiply into huge benefits for the entire device,” said Mark Bohr, senior fellow and director of Intel Process Architecture and Integration.

Intel Corp. did not say which products are to be made using the 65nm ultra-low power fabrication technology, however, it indicated that the first chips made using the process had already been made.

“Test chips made on Intel’s ultra-low power 65nm process technology have shown transistor leakage reduction roughly 1000 times from our standard process. This translates into significant power savings for people who will use devices based on this technology,” Mr. Bohr added.

Intel plans to start revenue shipments of its 65nm code-named Yonah and Presler processors for mobile and desktop computers late this year with formal introduction following in early 2006. In the second half of next year Intel is planning to introduce processors with a totally new micro-architecture code-named Conroe and Merom for desktops and laptops. It is yet unknown whether the Merom chips are to be made using a process technology different compared to the Presler that use Intel’s first-generation 65nm fabrication process. It is more likely that the new ultra-low power 65nm process is slated to be used for devices that are to be introduced in 2007.

“We will design future mobility platforms to take full advantage of both leading-edge, 65nm manufacturing processes,” said Mooly Eden, vice president and general manager of the Intel Mobile Platforms Group. It is not known which future mobile platforms he referred to.

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