Sakset/Fra hofta

Intel presenterer en ny chip mandag som representerer et kvantesprang. Dataene er så fantastiske – 30 millioner transistorer på et nålehode – at man egentlig ikke skjønner noen ting.

Intel Corp. plans to roll out its newest generation of processors Monday, flexing its manufacturing muscle with a sophisticated new process that crams up to 40 percent more transistors onto the company’s chips.

The world’s largest semiconductor company expects to start shipping 16 new microprocessors — which also boast inventive new materials to stanch electricity loss — for use in servers and high-end gaming PCs .

The most complex chips being launched Monday have 820 million transistors, compared with the 582 million transistors on the same chips built using the current standard technology. Intel’s first chips, introduced in the early 1970s, had just 2,300 transistors.

Advances in chip technology occur as smaller and smaller lines are etched onto the chips. Intel’s new chips shrink the width of those lines to an average of 45 nanometers, or 45 billionths of a meter, compared to 65 nanometers on the previous generation of chips .

The smaller circuitry allows Intel to squeeze more transistors — the building blocks of computer chips — onto the same slice of silicon. That accelerates performance and drives down manufacturing costs.

The transistors on the new chips are so small that more than 30 million of them can fit onto the head of a pin. Performance zooms ahead with smaller transistors because more of them are available, they twitch faster to process data and less energy is required to power them.

Perhaps more importantly, the transistors on the Santa Clara-based company’s new chips are built with new materials that help solve the critical problem of electricity loss as the circuitry gets smaller and smaller.

As electricity escapes from the chip, more power is needed to fuel its operations, leading to shorter battery life in laptop computers or higher electricity costs to run the machines.

«This is more than just a new process shrink,» Tom Kilroy, general manager of Intel’s Digital Enterprise Group, said. «Forty-five nanometers is wonderful and we get an uplift, but it really is the reinvention of the transistor.»

Intel, which plans to spend up to $8 billion on upgrading or building factories for the 45-nanometer chips, is at least six months ahead of smaller rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc. in moving to the new technology.