A Year Ago: Chip firms compete to push limits

First published: Sun, 16 Apr 2000 07:00:00 GMT

Following IBM's announcement last week of new insulated substrate technology, working in conjunction with copper interconnects to improve chip performance, AMD, Texas Instruments and Samsung have revealed more details of their innovations.

AMD has issued samples of Thunderbird, a new Athlon processor configuration with integrated Level 2 cache and copper interconnects. The chip uses a 0.18 micron process, like AMD's recently revealed 1GHz components, currently shipping in limited numbers. There will also be 4Mbit SRAM cache chips available using the same copper process.

Speed, price and availability have yet to be announced. AMD's forthcoming 32bit and 64bit Sledgehammer processors will run at 2GHz for their introduction at the end of 2001.

Texas Instruments will introduce its own copper and low-k insulator manufacturing technologies over the next 18 months. Its first copper-based system will be used for the Sun UltraSparc processors it produces, as well as its own DSP chips. It will retain TI's current 0.18 micron process and will arrive in the fourth quarter of 2000. In early 2001, TI will shrink the process to 0.13 micron, and by late 2001 it will combine both advances with its own low-k substrate system; this has been developed in conjunction with Applied Materials, which is also working with Intel on that company's copper interconnect technology, details of which have not yet been announced.

A move from 0.18 to 0.13 micron processes is also at the heart of Samsung's statement that it will sample Alpha processors running as fast as 1.6GHz later this year.

See also:

* www.alpha-processor.com

* www.amd.com

* www.ti.com/sc/docs/schome.htm

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