Intel launches 2 billion transistor chip

Chip described by Intel as "evolutionary not revolutionary"

Intel has launched a quad-core chip featuring more than 2 billion transistors.

Tukwila, designed for high-end servers, will operate at a speed of 2GHz - the same as a standard PC chip. Intel's success in breaking the 2 billion transistor barrier follow Moore's Law, which was created by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore in 1965 and dictates that the number of transistors it's possible to squeeze in to a chip for a fixed cost doubles every two years.

The chip has been described by Intel as "evolutionary not revolutionary" because it follows the 2006 launch of a chip containing 1 billion transistors.

According to Malcolm Penn, an analyst at Future Horizons, the chip contains lots of cache memory, which holds data to be processed by the chip.

"The closer it is to the processor, the quicker the data can be crunched. It's just like the difference between getting food from the fridge, rather than from the corner shop," he added.

The chip also bucks the current trend of many modern processors that aim for lower power consumption, which Justin Ratner, chief technology officer at Intel, reported was demanded by many companies.

"Firms that used the chips demanded more performance and were willing to trade power to get it," he explained.

Tukwila will be on display at the International Solid State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) in San Francisco this week alongside Intel's Silverthorn - a chip designed for ultra-mobile devices, which contains features just 45 nanometers (billionth of a meter) wide.

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Carrie-Ann Skinner

PC Advisor (UK)

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