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New transistor design means greener IT

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Intel last wek opened its new chip production facility, Fab 32, the first to turn out 45 nanometer microprocessors that use less power.

“Intel’s move to 45nm processor design using two new materials has been described as the most important breakthrough in transistor technology in 40 years,” says Joubert De Lange, business development manager at Intel South Africa.
“It allows us to deliver greater processor performance across the desktop, notebook and server platforms while reducing power consumption, heat, size and costs.”
Historically the fundamental problem with chips that use more and more transistors has been an increase in current leakage, resulting in higher heat generation and more power demand. Intel’s new design reduces leakage by as much as 10 times while increasing the density of transistors on the chip by two times compared to previous generation technology. For example Intel’s next generation Core 2 processor packs 410 million transistors into is dual-core format and a whopping 820 million for the quad core version, twice as many as the previous 65nm design.
This is good news particularly for data centres deploying multi-core server and blade systems as more processing power is available without a consequent increase in power demand or heat generation.
Says De Lange: “According to Gartner, the current trend in business is to consolidate server sites in an effort to reduce operating costs and improve overall efficiency. As a result the number of servers per data centre will increase, forcing business to consider issues of power consumption and cooling. Intel’s multi-core 45nm Core 2 and Xeon processor families will allow for a greater server density and more processing power while lowering energy demand related to hardware and cooling. This translates directly into lower operating costs and greater environmental compatibility – a win-win situation for businesses under pressure to grow in a rapidly changing marketplace while faced with issues of global warming.”
He adds: “The 45nm chip design has given new impetus to the now famous Moore’s Law, an axiom which states that transistor count doubles every two years, while ensuring that IT becomes greener without sacrificing performance.”