Intel revealed plans for its next generation of semiconductor manufacturing today, putting the portable market in its sights with smaller chips that consume less power.
The new technology will approximately double the number of transistors on a chip and make possible processor speeds that are 50 percent higher than those currently available. These two factors will lead to processors that are at least three times as powerful as today's top of the line processors and enable smaller versions of present processors to be used for portable applications.
"Our present product plans are to introduce the Pentium processor manufactured with this technology into the portable market," said Robert Jecman, Intel Corp.'s vice president and director of California Technology and Manufacturing. New chips are expected to use about 40 to 50 percent less power than today's processors, according to Intel, based in Santa Clara, Calif.
The smaller processors will result in an increase in the yield per wafer for microprocessors, leading to cost savings that could be passed on to the consumer.
The transition of Intel's fabrication facilities to the new process will bring online the necessary technology for the next generation of microprocessors. The next generation microprocessor for portable computers, code named Deschutes, is expected to use a smaller manufacturing process.
"A total of $4.5 billion will be spent on quarter-micron capacity in 1997," said Paul S. Otellini, Intel's executive vice president and director of sales and marketing.
The new manufacturing process will create average features as small as 0.25 microns, or millionths of a meter. Currently, Intel makes chips with 0.35-micron features.
Intel will only transition about 5 percent of its semiconductor fabrication facilities to a new 0.25-micron process by the end of 1997, said company officials today at a briefing for industry analysts and the press. By 1998, over 40 percent of the company's manufacturing facilities will have been converted to the 0.25-micron technology. By 1999, that will increase to almost 70 percent.