It’s been some time since we’re looking at the 45-nm processors in the market. They include Intel Penryn and Nehelum based CPUs, AMD Phenom series, Graphics Processors from Nvidia and AMD, and mobile processors which were introduced by Toshiba, Sandisk and other companies. Due to Intel’s high-k metal technology, these processors proved to be not just extremely fast, but also highly energy efficient.
But as the processing needs are ever increasing, it necessary to strain the silicon and make the process size even smaller. 32-nm process technolgy is around the corner, with some major chip manufacturers such as Intel, TSMC, Toshiba, Sandisk and IBM have already released their prototypes for the new process.
Intel recently released their roadmap for the development for the 32-nm processors. Currently, Intel is investing billions of dollars in the 32-nm chip manufacturing plants. Intel is working on “tick/tock” model of design and manufacturing upgrades. The “tock” implements a new microarchitecture design, as we saw with the current Core i7 Nehalem-based products, while the “tick” is a transition in process technology with only modest architectural changes.
The current available processors are penryn, and 32-nm Westmere are around the corner. As Westmere is in the ‘tick’ category, it will have no microarhiecture enhancements, but will only be a reduction in the process technology. Westmere will primilarility utilize the Intel’s Nahelum architecture, while giving some process improvements and better energy efficiency, all while packing nearly twice more transistors than were available with 45-nm process.
Not only the new 32-nm advancements will give performance and other benefits, it will also make Nahelum available to Mainstream and even low-end market. There will also be versions for mobile CPUs such as Clarksfiled and Arrandale. Another key advancement will be Client-Platform re-partioning for the Xeon Server processors and the introduction of Graphics Core inside the CPU for Westmere processors.
AMD although is a bit slow at development, but it has also started working on their ‘Bulldozer’ micro architecture should be available by 2010. Bulldozer is the next-generation micro-architecture and processor design developed from the ground up by AMD. It is expected that the next-generation micro-processors will offer considerably higher performance than current-generation chips. AMD Bulldozer CPUs will also feature SSE5 instruction set. The Sunnyvale, California-based microprocessor developer badly needs principally new CPU micro-architecture to recapture performance crown from Intel Corp. and win back market share.
Sandisk has also developed process for their 32-nm flash based NAND memory to produce upto 32-gigabit (Gb) 3-bits-per-cell (X3) memory chip. The breakthrough introduction is expected to quickly bring to market advanced technologies that will enable greater capacities and reduce manufacturing costs for products ranging from microSD memory cards to Solid State Drives (SSD).
The 32GB flash based cards are likely to be the last capacity bump of the microSDHC and flash memory line, which will be replaced by the next-generation SDXC (eXtended Capacity) memory cards. SDXC cards will be offered in capacities of 2 GB up to 2 TB with faster read/write speeds of up to 104 MB per second in 2009 with a road map to 300 MB per second.
Toshiba, in conjunction with IBM and NEC are developing many technologies based on 32-nm, primarily memories, and flash based NAND cards. The NAND based flash memory is used in SSDs (Solid State Drives) which are expected to decrease the prices and also lower cost due to 32-nm processes.
Certainly, with so much development going on, it’s likely that 32-nm based processors will be available by the end of 2009, maybe earlier. The new processes technology will again give a big boost to the hardware manufacturing components, and will provide twice more power and energy consumption than the current generation.