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Intel Starts Production of 45 nm Penryn Processors

Transistor gates based on Hafnium and metal alloys

October 25, 2007 - Today, Intel started volume production of its 45 nm chips at its new Fab 32 in Chandler, Arizona. The first Penryn processors are scheduled to be introduced on November 12.

Intel started the construction of Fab 32 in August 2005. The total costs are three billion dollars. The complete factory measures 1 million square feet, including 184,000 square feet of clean room space. More than 1,000 employees will operate the factory.

Miles and miles of tracks make up the automated handling system that runs along the ceiling of Intel's Fab 32 in Chandler, Arizona. [Intel]

Hafnium and Metal Alloys

The 45 nm transistors use a Hafnium-based high-k material for the gate dielectric and metal materials for the gate electrode. The implementation of high-k and metal materials marks the biggest change in transistor technology since the introduction of polysilicon gate MOS transistors in the late 1960s, said Intel co-founder Gordon Moore. The combination of the metal gates and the high-k gate dielectric leads to transistors with low current leakage and high performance.

Process name Lithography First production
P1262 90 nm 2003
P1264 65 nm 2005
P1266 45 nm 2007
P1268 32 nm 2009
P1270 22 nm 2011

Silicon dioxide has been used to make the transistor gate dielectric for more than fourty years because of its manufacturability and ability to deliver continued transistor performance improvements as it has been made ever thinner. Intel has shrunk the silicon dioxide gate dielectric to as little as 1.2 nm thick - equal to five atomic layers - on its previous 65 nm process technology, but the continued shrinking has led to increased current leakage through the gate dielectric, resulting in wasted electric current and unnecessary heat.

High-k and metal gate transistors provide significant performance increase and leakage reduction. [Intel]

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