AMD has been marching into Intelís share of the processor market for good reason; they have been innovating faster. But how long can they keep this up against the giant chipmaker who has many times more resources? By all accounts, Intel is significantly beating AMD at shrinking their design process from 90nm to 65nm. This upcoming change means a jump in performance and a drop in power consumption and heat. Since Intel is opening the fabs for production, should AMD be pulling all-nighters to play catch up?
In past months weíve seen processor manufacturers creatively finding new ways to extend Mooreís Law. Since itís become difficult just to increase the clock speed of processors, they have been popularizing 64-bit processing and dual core chips. Of course, AMD has had the upper hand with both. But Intel claims that 65nm process will help them keep pushing their performance so as not to fall behind. In this, they are significantly ahead of AMD, which will be using 90nm design for some time yet.
This certainly could provide an advantage for Intel. The new design process, they claim, will improve performance and lower the power that their processors use. By shrinking processor parts, more processors will be able to be cut out of each 300nm wafer at the Intel Fabs. This could lower costs and allow Intel to produce more chips at a time, provided that they donít have a sharp increase in defective chips during this trasition.
Should AMD be worried? AMD processors have been in high demand, and they have been eating away at Intelís market share. A decent boost in the Pentiumís performance could slow this tide of change.
While trying to expand their market presence, AMD needed to increase their production for some time. AMDís old Fab 30 has been running at full capacity for a while now, and the company hasnít built a new Fab for 5 years. Just last month, AMDís new Fab 36 has become the companyís third and newest manufacturing facility. They built it in Dresden, Germany near one of their others. Fab 36 is AMDís first 300nm wafer plant, though Intel already has several. The larger wafers will let AMD build more chips at a time, but they are starting out one generation behind Intel in process geometry. It is beginning to produce only 90nm processors, and the 64nm will follow.
Intel, on the other hand, has no shortage of Fabs.
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