Intel Announces New Metal-based Chip Technology

Intel has developed a new computer chip technology that replaces the familiar silicone dioxide with hafnium, allowing for faster and smaller computer processors. The new chips will be able to run cooler and more efficiently than processors used today while allowing for even higher transistor densities than are capable now - and should be available before the end of the year.

The processors, code named Penryn, will use 45 nanometer transistors - much smaller than the 90 nanometer technology found in most chips today. The first models will be used in the next generation Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad processors, which means they could show up in new Macs in 2008, or earlier if Intel can ramp up production soon.

One of the key features of the hafnium-based chips, according to Intel, is a property called high-k. The microscopic gates that allow or block the flow of electricity through the chip transistors is where energy is lost and heat created. The new chips offer substantially more efficient gates since the hafnium and high-k properties lose less of the electricity that passes into each transistor.

Intel co-founder Gordon Moore commented "The implementation of high-k and metal materials marks the biggest change in transistor technology since the introduction of polysilicon gate MOS transistors in the late 1960s."