Intel: One Billon Transistors Can’t Be Wrong

Intel Tuesday unveiled its strategy to cram some of its chips with 1 billion transistors by 2007.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip making giant said it is using a combination of nanotechnology and design changes to its semiconductors to help extend Moore’s Law by a few more years.

The plan is to use its upcoming mobile Banias processors Itanium, Xeon and, along with its Hyper-Threading technology as the testing ground for its initiative.

“We are looking at a lot of different ideas about what specific apps would be the drivers for the 1 billion transistor chips,” Intel fellow John Crawford said at the Microprocessor Forum 2002 here. “I’m not speculating, but I think that some of the advances will help extend memory chip designs further and further.”

Due out next year, 90nm Banias uses the best of Pentium III and 4 designs and will start out at speeds of 1.6GHz, 1.5GHz, 1.4GHz and 1.3GHz, with 1MB secondary cache and include support for 802.11a and 802.11b wireless standards.

And just to show how close it is getting, Intel said it is currently integrating 4 Itanium nodes and 2 processors cores with 120 million transistors with a serial cache between 12 and 16 MB and a multi-core Enterprise processor.

Analyst group In-Stat/MDR, which sponsored the gathering, said Intel’s direction, especially with Banias, is one that it had to take considering increased competition from AMD, ARM and Transmeta.

“For the first time, Intel has designed an x86 microarchitecture for low power consumption, not raw performance,” said In-Stat/MDR senior analyst Tom Halfhill. “If Banias delivers better performance with comparable power consumption (Transmeta’s) Crusoe is in trouble.”

Intel Tuesday also released its IXP2850 network processor for use in Virtual Private Networks, Web services and Storage Area networks.

The new chip can be programmed to hold speeds up to 10 Gbps and handle standards like 3DES, AES and SHA-1. Due out in the second quarter of 2003, the $725 (in bulk) semiconductor is able to share data and state information but take up less space, use less power and minimize memory requirements.

The company said it has included accompanying simulation routines, libraries and compliers in its latest software development kit (v3.0).