Penryn Mightier Than Conroe Page: 1
News <script type="text/javascript" src=""></script> Posted 29/01/07
Author: PV5150
Source: The Inquirer

Intel logo

Intel and its 45nm Penryn processor, are the talk of the town. The tech community, and pc enthusiasts alike, are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to get their hands on this new breed of processor. So what is the attraction towards Penryn? Will Penryn live up to the precedent set by 'Conroe'? Let's have a look at what we can expect from Intel's next generation.

The 45nm process-technology promises to put an end to leakage current runaway and allows the placing of roughly twice as many transistors per area compared to the hitherto used 65 nm (1264) process. Yield analysis is good at this point and the A0 silicon running is no small accomplishment.

Penryn yield

On January 26, 2007, Intel went public with the demonstration of their first processor core - codename Penryn - manufactured on a 45 nm dry lithography and running several operating systems at roughly over 2 GHz core speed. The manufacturing process - P1266 - has been working since January 2006 for the manufacture of the highest density SRAM cell array in the industry and is based on bringing back metal gates into the transistors while replacing the (SiO2) insulator with a precision-manufactured hafnium alloy High-k substrate using ALD technology.

Old gate vs New

Intel's metal gates under electron microscope

The details are complex but the basic premise is higher frequencies, smaller transistors and higher density while lowering electrical leakage and maintaining a reliable manufacturer process.

Intel also mentioned that Penryn will have 410 million transistors on a dual core processor compared to the 290 million or so on a Conroe. The majority of these extra transistors will be in the form of cache though some are for the addition of SSE4 instructions. It has been suggested that 8MB L2 cache will be the new standard per core.

Penryn Die

Intel are currently running ahead of schedule with two fabrication facilities in the US operational at 45nm by the end of the year and another in Israel in 2008. We can expect that performance and performance-per-watt will continue upwards, just as we saw with the introduction of the 'Conroe' processor last year. Regardless of what Penryn is going to deliver in performance, let's hope AMD are able to introduce something special in order to remain competitive in 2007 through 2008.

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