Intel shows off 45nm Penryn + High-K Metal Gate transistors

Posted on Saturday, Jan 27 2007 @ 20:15 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
This week Intel presented the first working 45nm Penryn processors to the press. These processors will become available in the second half of this year.

“Being first to high volume with 65nm process technology and the first with a working 45nm chip highlights Intel’s leadership position in chip technology and manufacturing,” said Bill Holt, vice president, general manger, Intel Technology and Manufacturing Group. “Intel has a long history of translating technology leaps into tangible benefits that people appreciate. Our 45nm technology will provide the foundation for delivering PCs with improved performance–per– watt that will enhance the user experience.”

Processors on the 45nm process will leak more than five times less energy than 65nm processors, according to Intel. This will reduce energy consumption, make processors cooler and increase battery life on mobile platforms.

In addition to the manufacturing capabilities of its D1D facility in Oregon, where the initial 45nm development efforts are underway, Intel has announced two high–volume fabs under construction to manufacture chips using the 45nm process technology: Fab 32 in Arizona and Fab 28 in Israel.

Someone from Intel showing off a 300mm wafer with 45nm shuttle test chips

Check out this article for some more photos and a look at the die of the 45nm Penryn processor. The manufacturing process used by Penryn is codenamed P1266. It's not just a shrink from 65nm to 45nm - it also features a new type of transistors with metal gates and high-k dielectrics.

High-K Metal Gate
Intel also unveiled more details to the press about their new High-K + Metal Gate transistors. A detailed technical analysis of these new transistors can be found at Bit Tech. I would love to write a bit more about this myself but the four PDF files where Intel links to on its website are currently unavailable.

I first reported about this new technology in 2003. Intel then predicted these transistors would be available in 2007 on a 45nm process and it looks like they were right. One of the major advantages of these new transistors is that they leak a lot less electricity and provide a significant performance increase.

According to Gordon Moore, the implementation of high-k and metal gate materials is the biggest change in transistor technology since the introduction of polysilicon gate MOS transistors in the late 1960s.

Some info from the Intel slides on Bit-Tech:
  • Metal Gate increases the gate field effect
  • High-k Dielectric:
    • Increases the gate field effect
    • Allows use of thicker dielectric layer to reduce gate leakage
  • High-k + Metal Gate combined:
    • Drive current increased >20% (>20% higher performance) OR source-drain leakage reduced >5x (good for mobile chips)
    • Gate oxide leakage reduced >10x.
    • Switching power consumption almost 30% reduced
Intel also says that "no other company" (read: AMD) has reached this level of success and that they are not expected to have High-k + Metal Gate until they reach 32nm or later.

Update: AMD will likely start using high-k metal gate transistors in 2008, they announced the development of these transistors in cooperation with IBM..

Difference between current silicon transistors and 45nm High-k + metal gate transistors

About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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Re: Intel shows off 45nm Penryn + High-K Metal Gate transistors
by Anonymous on Monday, Jan 29 2007 @ 16:11 CET
Wow, this chips sound like they offer huge improvements over the Core 2 Duo setup, which was already award worthy.

I guess it's finally time to replace my AMD XP1700 box with this setup.

- 30% less watts (which in reality will be turned up to current Core 2 values to boost performance).
- 20% more speed at the same mhz?

I'm drooling

  • Reply by Anonymous on Monday, Jul 07 2008 @ 18:47 CEST

    Well I took longer than I expected, but I recently replaced my system with the 45nm E8400 (3gh per core) Core 2 Duo, it's amazing. I'm glad I waited, along with a 65nm fab Nvidia 8800GTS I was able to use the same (overpriced big name) $80 350w PSU as it supplies enough power for the new lower watt hardware.