Intel has announced that it will invest $7 billion into the research and development of 32nm silicon fabrication process technology . The 32nm processors, codenamed Westmere, are expected to hit production floors some time later this year, while the next 32nm processor architecture, dubbed Sandy Bridge, is expected to go into production in 2010. The 32nm process technology with the second generation high-k + metal gate transistor built chips - Westmere - are the tick part of Intel's 'tick tock model,' which was mentioned in their roadmap for 22nm processors last August. In the 'tick tock' model, ticks are die shrinks and tocks are new processor microarchitectures. Intel had completed the 32nm process technology development at their labs.
Intel's 32nm Westmere features Intel Turbo Boost Technology, Intel Hyper-Threading technology, integrated graphics, an integrated memory controller supporting dual-channel DDR3, a 4MB cache, and AES instructions.
Stephen Smith, vice president of the Intel Digital Enterprise Group, mentioned that Intel will first deliver new 45nm quad-core Nehalem chips codenamed Lynnsfield (octal-threaded) for desktop systems and Clarksfield (octal-threaded) for the thinner and lighter mobile platform. Two 45nm dual-core Nehalem chips codenamed Havendale (quad-threaded) for desktops and Auburndale (quad-threaded) for mobile systems have been 'deprioritized' as of now.
Intel will roll out dual-core 32nm processors dubbed Clarkdale and Arrandale for the desktop and mobile platform, respectively. Intel's 32nm chips will be bifurcated into two versions - mainstream processors and systems-on-chip processors for netbooks and other mobile devices.
Smith said, "The graphics inside the Westmere processors will be based on the current graphics functions integrated into Intel's current 4-series motherboard chipsets, but will provide a significant boost in performance." The GPU included is a die shrink of the Graphics Media Accelerator X4500 series solution.
The in-socket GPU will be able to support dual-channel DDR3 and would be capable of switching to a discrete GPU. Regarding the performance of the 32nm Westmere chips, Intel boasts of a 22 percent boost clock for clock over the 45nm chips. Westmere will also have new steppings and already has seven new instructions designed for encryption acceleration and decrypting of algorithms.
Currently, Intel has rolled up its sleeves to launch Clarksdale and Arrandale in the fourth quarter of this year. With a downturn expected in the semiconductor market, Intel's announcement of a $7 billion investment into 32nm fab process technology development has pumped fresh air into the silicon industry.