AMD shrinks desktop chips to 65nm design

AMD began selling its dual-core desktop PC chip with a 65-nanometer design, making it faster and more efficient than the 90-nm version.

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) began selling its top chip for desktop PCs made with a 65-nanometer design on Tuesday, continuing its efforts to keep up with Intel as the industry migrates from 90-nm design to a faster, more efficient generation of processors.

By manufacturing its dual-core Athlon 64 X2 chip on the smaller geometry, AMD will be able to increase manufacturing output while improving the chips' performance and power efficiency, said Jack Huynh, a market development manager for AMD.

Some PC vendors are selling the new chip in computers already, and by the first quarter of 2007 that list will include Acer, Dell, Founder Electronics, Hewlett-Packard, Packard Bell and Tsinghua Tongfang Co., according to AMD.

The move to 65-nm manufacturing is crucial for AMD as the company strives to keep up with a flurry of new processors from Intel. Intel had a rough year in 2006, losing ground to AMD in market share, but has rallied in recent months. The company launched its Core 2 Duo family of desktop chips in July and its quad-core Core 2 Extreme in November. Intel switched its chip manufacturing plants to a smaller architecture months ago, and already sells more 65-nm chips than 90-nm chips.

A chip made with 65-nm process technology has smaller features -- such as transistors and the wires that connect them -- than a chip made with 90-nm technology, said Rob Willoner, a technology analyst with Intel's technology and manufacturing group. That progression is the engine that drives Moore's Law, the prediction that the number of processors on a microprocessor will double every 18 months.

One nanometer is one-billionth of a meter, meaning that the wires on 65-nm design chips are far slimmer than human hairs. Minuscule as that is, chip vendors already have plans to shrink the parts even smaller. Intel has already announced plans to use chip features of 45 nm by 2007, 32 nm by 2009 and 22 nm by 2011.

As chip features continue to shrink, engineers struggle harder to take each new step. But as long as customers demand smaller, more efficient computers, there's plenty of economic incentive for the process to continue, he said.

"There's bound to be an end at some point, but we can't see it yet," Willoner said. "At one point, people said it was 1 micron, which is 1,000 nm, but the industry passed that without blinking about a decade ago. Now some people are saying it's 5 nm. I don't see it happening before 2020 or 2025, and by then we could have radically different technologies to compensate."

AMD chose to apply the new "Rev G" 65-nm design to its high-end, dual-core desktop chip first because the company's midrange, single-core Athlon and Sempron chips are already fairly efficient, running at 62 watts using a 90-nm design, said AMD's Huynh.

The Athlon 64 X2 operated at a high 110 watts when it was first launched in June 2005, but this migration will bring it down to just 65 watts, he said. AMD will continue to produce both 90-nm and 65-nm Athlon 64 X2 chips until it phases the larger-design chips out completely by the second half of 2007.

Next, AMD plans to apply the 65-nm design to its single-core Athlon and Sempron chips, shrinking them by the end of 2007. And the company has already begun work on the next step, shrinking its chips to a 45-nm design, although AMD did not give a specific date for that goal.

AMD is selling the 65-nm Athlon 64 X2 chips at prices of US$301 for a 2.6GHz 5000-series chip, US$271 for the 2.5GHz 4800 series, US$214 for the 2.3GHz 4400 series, and US$169 for the 2.1GHz 4000 series, all priced in lots of 1,000.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ben Ames

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?