Intel plans to further reduce the size and power consumption of its mobile microprocessors over the next year or so, paving the way for computers that are smaller and consume substantially less power, a company executive has said.
Since last year, Intel has reduced the size of its chips by 75 per cent, while reducing power consumption by 50 per cent, said Christian Morales, the company's vice president and general manager of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, during a press conference at the CeBIT exhibition in Hanover, Germany.
By 2008, Intel expects to make further gains, offering chips that consume 10 per cent of the power that their predecessors required in 2006, Morales said. Microprocessors produced in 2008 will also be 85 per cent smaller than 2006 chips, he said.
"The ultimate goal that we have is to have a system on a chip, a highly integrated solution," Morales said.
Much of the anticipated gains in power consumption will come from advances in the process technology used by Intel to make microprocessors. At the beginning of 2006, most of Intel's chips were produced using a 90-nanometre (nm) process technology. By year's end, the bulk of Intel's chips were made using a more advanced 65nm process, and the company plans to begin pushing out chips made using a 45nm process.
Advances in process technologies, which are described by the size of the smallest feature they can create, allow chip makers to produce chips that are smaller, run faster and consume less power. They can also be cheaper. Shrinking the size of a chip allows more of them to be produced on a single silicon wafer, thereby reducing the unit production cost.
In addition to more advanced process technologies and chip designs, Intel is also counting on improved power management technologies and its Turbo Memory cache technology, formerly called Robson, to reduce overall power consumption. Turbo Memory uses flash memory chips, which can store memory without power, to reduce the number of times a computer must access its hard disk, reducing power consumption and increasing performance.