Intel chip boasts 2 billion transistors

February 4, 2008 3:23:03 PM PST
Intel Corp. has built a new chip packed with a record 2 billion transistors, more than doubling the processing power of a line of its chips for supercomputers, the company said. The Santa Clara-based company plans to present more information on its latest Itanium processor and a string of other technological achievements this week at the International Solid State Circuits Conference in San Francisco.

The new "quad-core" Itanium chips will operate at frequencies up to 2 gigahertz and have four processing engines on a single chip. Current models have two.

Adding processing engines boosts a chip's performance and improves ability to juggle various tasks at the same time. The former record for transistors on a microprocessor was 1.7 billion, held by another Itanium chip, Intel said.

Beyond bravado, the latest milestone signals Intel's commitment to its heavily criticized Itanium product line, which has been hammered by critics for falling short of Intel's expectations.

While they were under development in the 1990s, Intel vowed that its Itanium chips would reshape the computer industry and replace chips built on its popular x86 design. But they didn't catch on, and Intel's focus on Itanium gave smaller rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc. an opportunity to jump into the lucrative server market with what many companies viewed as a superior product.

Intel's other announcements from the conference include advances in wireless communications, faster memory chips capable of storing more data and a chip for mobile devices that's capable of operating at 2 gigahertz while consuming minuscule amounts of energy.


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