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FYI-World's first 45 nanometer processor


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Intel Corp. said a new line of computer processors due out later this year will be about 40 percent faster than current chips when running computer games, videos and other heavy workloads. 

The world's biggest microchip maker, which powers about 75 percent of computers, said the new Penryn processors will have the same basic design as current ones, but the circuitry will be 30 percent thinner -- just 45 millionths of a millimeter wide.

"In high-performance computing and bandwidth intensive applications ... there will be up to a whopping 45 percent performance increase," said Patrick Gelsinger, the general manager for Intel's digital enterprise group.

The Penryn would be the world's first 45 nanometer processor, Gelsinger said at the Intel Developer Forum in Beijing on Tuesday. The new processors will hit the market later this year, but Gelsinger did not provide a timeline.

In a prototype Penryn chip with four processing cores, that translated into 40 percent faster performance in computer games and video processing, while more mundane tasks such as image processing ran about 15 percent faster, Gelsinger said.

Intel held the forum in China just a month after saying it would build a $2.5 billion microchip plant in the mainland, underscoring the growing importance of the country in the global electronics manufacturing food chain.

The successor to Penryn, a family of chips known as Nehalem, will make their debut in 2008 with an overhauled design and featuring up to eight processing cores, double that of current top-of-the-line chips, he said.

Intel also reiterated plans to build graphics capabilities into Nehalem processors, a sign that it is mounting a challenge to AMD chips scheduled to come out in early 2009.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc.'s plans to integrate graphics into its processors -- a project known as "Fusion" -- is one result of its $5.4 billion purchase of Canadian graphics chip maker ATI last year.

Intel currently offers graphics integrated into its chipsets, the cluster of secondary chips and interfaces that surround a central processor and make it work with various parts of a computer.

The bulk of personal computers -- especially laptops -- are sold with such integrated graphics, and analysts have said the move to include such functions in processors themselves could put pressure on the market for separate graphics cards made by Nvidia Corp. as well as AMD's ATI division.

Nvidia has said it is not worried about integrated graphics, saying that the high-end graphics capabilities needed in areas such as games and medical imaging will sustain demand for its more powerful dedicated graphics chips.

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