AMD demonstrated its first 45nm processor designs at the giant CeBit trade show in Hanover, Germany this week and said it is on track to release 45nm processors in the second half of this year.
Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) made the move to 45nm late last year and in the process switched its manufacturing process, dropping the silicon dioxide that gave the Silicon Valley its name and instead using hafnium oxide. This reduced leakage in the chips and lowered the heat they gave off in the process.
AMD (NYSE:AMD) has its own high-k metal gate technology via its semiconductor partner IBM. However, it is not going to the new hafnium design with these processors, at least not initially.
This is typical of AMD, which does not make too many major changes at once. Intel, for example, went to 45nm and high-k metal gate at the same time, which is a major effort. For the smaller AMD, it typically makes one change at a time, notes Jim McGregor, senior analyst with In-Stat.
In this case, AMD's going to 45nm first and said moving to a new material, hafnium, will come later. McGregor said for now, AMD doesn't have to make the transition to hafnium. "At 45 nanometers, you're not at that physics brick wall where you can't do it, but getting to metal gates eventually is required," he told InternetNews.com. "As you get to smaller design processes like 32nm and 22nm, you absolutely need it [hafnium] because the smaller you get the more leakage you get."
The first chips to sport the new 45nm design are a quad-core desktop codenamed "Deneb" and a Quad Core Opteron server chip called "Shanghai." Kevin Knox, vice president of worldwide business marketing for AMD, called Shanghai "the most significant architecture change since Opteron."