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Going big on small chips

Intel may have the final say this year with its Penryn launch, but the jury is still out on which chipmaker will fare better in the market in 2008.

With its Penryn launch this week, it looks like Intel may just have the last word as 2007 winds to an end. But it remains to be seen whether it will hold up against archrival AMD when 2008 rolls in.

Intel debuted on Monday the world's first family of processors based on the 45-nanometer manufacturing technology.

Based on Intel's Core Microarchitecture, Penryn is essentially a shrinkdown version of its Core 2 Duo chips which had helped turn things around for the company around last year, after Intel lost some market share and design credibility to AMD.

Penryn marks Intel's second-generation quad-core chip and the company's first deployment of its Hafnium-based high-k metal gate (Hi-k) formula for its transistors.

Intel fought to win back its lost market share when the chipmaker launched its first-generation quad-core processor in November last year, by melding two of its duo-core processors into a single package.

Coupled with AMD's delayed launch of its quad-core chip Barcelona, Intel had a full generation lead of its archrival in terms of chip manufacturing process.

Barcelona, AMD's first generation quad-core chip, was finally launched in September, just two months before Penryn made its debut.

While AMD has said it is on track to produce its first 45-nanometer chips by the middle of 2008, Intel is already readying a successor to Penryn, which will be undergoing a microarchitecture transition.

Codenamed Nehalem, Intel's second-generation 45-nanometer processor is slated for launch next year. The upcoming processor is expected to "unlock the potential" of the 45-nanometer chip architecture, according to Intel, which added that it is on track to introduce its 32-nanometer manufacturing process in 2009.

It remains to be seen whether AMD or Intel will lead the market in 2008. Until then, here's a rundown of key developments in recent months, leading up to the launch of the market's first 45-nanometer processor.

Intel's big hope for small circuits
With its new Penryn design, the chipmaker shifts to 45 nanometers and aims to put some distance between itself and AMD.
November 12, 2007

Intel launches Penryn processors
Chip maker officially unveils today the world's first family of processors based on the 45-nanometer manufacturing process.
November 12, 2007

AMD: 45 nano manufacturing on schedule
Advanced Micro Devices is not delaying 45-nanometer manufacturing, according to the company, which is trying to correct an erroneous report on a blog.
October 22, 2007

Intel breathless with Nehalem anticipation
At IDF, Intel's Pat Gelsinger barely restrains his excitement about the next-generation 'Nehalem' processors due in 2008.
September 19, 2007

Intel on lookout for next big thing
Intel Developer Forum this week will zero in on upcoming chips. Areas for longer-term growth aren't quite so clear.
September 18, 2007

Intel 45nm fab to open in 45 days
Intel's first manufacturing facility for producing 45-nanometer processors in high volume will open in October in Chandler, Ariz.
September 12, 2007

AMD's Barcelona not a savior, yet
After a delay, Barcelona is here, but is it the clear winner AMD promised it would be? That's uncertain.
September 10, 2007

AMD finally unveils Barcelona chip
After months of delay, the chip maker finally launches its first quad-core processors this week, and says it is ready to compete with archrival Intel.
September 10, 2007

Intel readies Penryn processors
Semiconductor giant hopes to turn up the heat on rival AMD with 11 new 45nm processors to be launched early next year, according to reports.
August 24, 2007

AMD chief: Barcelona six months late
Technical glitches caused more than six months of delays as chipmaker tried to get its first quad-core processor ready, CEO admits.
August 21, 2007