Intel has turned up the heat in the processor speed race with the release of Pentium 4 processors running at 2.4GHz. The new chips are produced on 300mm wafers using 0.13-micron technology.
Intel said it could provide more than five times the amount of product on a single wafer compared to the initial Pentium 4 that shipped in November 2000.
By far the most innovative move is to reduce the die size by 10 per cent. This allows the chip giant to squeeze out more chips per wafer, which could lead to further price cuts.
"We have enhanced our 0.13-micron process with faster transistors, smaller feature sizes, and 300mm manufacturing efficiencies, while we continue to ramp up production in multiple factories," said Sunlin Chou, senior vice president and general manager of Intel's Technology and Manufacturing Group.
At present only one of the five 0.13-micron factories producing Pentium 4 chips do so on 300mm wafers. The rest still work on 200mm wafers.
The chips are based on the company's Northwood processor core, which gives the desktop processors a larger 512Kb level two cache.
The 0.13-micron manufacturing process reduces size and power consumption compared to Intel's older 0.18-micron Willamette Pentium 4s.
Older chips could only manage speeds up to 2GHz and offered a 256Kb Level 2 cache. The larger cache helps boost performance.
The new chips will be available in 1,000-unit quantities at $562 each. Intel is also shipping the boxed processors to its distributors for systems integrators worldwide. Most PC makers will be using the new chip in their top-of-the-range models.
Not to be outdone by its rival, AMD also has faster chips in the pipeline. It has begun shipping 0.13-micron chips codenamed Thoroughbred, which will first appear in notebooks before moving to the desktop at a later date.
Intel hopes to meet its own target of producing 3GHz processors by the end of the year.
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