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‘Biggest transistor enhancements in 40 years’

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Intel has taken the wraps off 16 new server and high-end PC processors, the first to be manufactured by its 45nm (nanometer) process and the first to use the new Hafnium-based high-k metal gate (Hi-k) formula for the hundreds of millions of transistors. 

The new processors are built using a new transistor formula that alleviates wasteful electricity leaks. In addition to increasing computer performance and saving energy use, these processors also eliminate eco-unfriendly lead and, in 2008, halogen materials.
Called the biggest transistor advancements in 40 years by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, the new processors are 25% smaller than previous versions and, thus, more cost-effective, as well as the ability next year to pursue new ultra mobile and consumer electronics "system on chip" opportunities.
"The intellects, physics and designs that went into solving one of the industry's most daunting challenges are awe-inspiring and I congratulate the Intel teams for this breakthrough achievement," says Paul Otellini, Intel president and CEO.
"Best yet, this feat, coupled with our industry-leading architectures, means faster and sleeker computers, longer battery life and better energy efficiency. Our objective is to bring consumers a new class of computers delivering a full Internet experience in ever-smaller, more portable form factors."
The new 45nm (a nanometer is 1 billionth of a meter) processors boast nearly twice the transistor density of previous chips built on the company's 65nm technology – that is up to 820-million transistors for quad-core processors, each using Intel's new formula.
The Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650 quad core processor, the world's first 45nm Hi-k desktop processor, delivers more of the adrenaline that hardcore gamers and media enthusiasts demand. Enhancements such as a larger L2 cache and support for new Intel SSE4 media instructions help bring desktop performance to "extreme" new levels.
New to the Intel line-up of server processors are 15 server dual-core and quad-core 45nm Hi-k Intel Xeon processors. The 12 new quad-core chips boast clock speeds ranging from 2GHz up to 3.20GHz, with front side bus speeds (FSB) up to 1600MHz, and cache sizes of 12Mb. The three new dual-core chips feature clock speeds of up to 3.40GHz, an FSB of up to 1600MHz, and cache sizes of 6Mb.
The 45nm Hi-k Intel Xeon processors are compatible with server platforms using the Intel 5000 chipset family. In addition, Intel is launching three platform solutions to support 45nm processors, including:
* The Intel 5400 chipset-based platform (previously codenamed "Stoakley") that is optimized for high-bandwidth applications such as high-performance computing (HPC).
* The Intel 5100 Memory Controller Hub chipset and Intel ICH-9R I/O controller (previously codenamed "Cranberry Lake"). These are cost-optimised solutions that support either one or two processors and also provide reduced power consumption using native DDR2 memory; and
* The Intel 3200 chipset-based platform (previously codenamed "Garlow") that is specifically designed for single-processor entry servers.
Intel's 45nm Hi-k Xeon processors also extend performance-per-watt leadership by delivering an improvement of 38% over its previous-generation Quad-Core Xeon 5300 Series processors.
The move from 65nm to 45nm involves more than just a shrink of current chip designs. The processors include such additional features as new Intel Streaming SIMD Extensions 4 (SSE4), which are 47 new instructions that speed up workloads including video encoding for high-definition and photo manipulation, as well as key HPC and enterprise applications.
Additional processor performance enhancing architectural features include:
* Enhanced Intel virtualisation technology – Virtual machine transition (entry/exit) times are improved by an average of 25% to 75% through hardware with no changes to software required.
* Fast division of numbers – A fast divider roughly doubles the speed over previous generations for computations used in nearly all applications through a technique called Radix 16. The ability to divide instructions and commands faster increases a computer's performance.
* Super shuffle engine – By implementing a wider 128-bit shuffle unit, performance significantly improves for SSE-related instructions that have shuffle-like operations. This feature will increase performance for content creation, imaging, video and high-performance computing.