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Intel boffins shrink chip transistors to 20nm

What's the big deal? It's what they're paid to do

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Intel has produced transistors nine times smaller than the current standard for microprocessors, and probably as small as chip transistors can go.

The transistor measures 0.02 microns, rather smaller than today's 0.18 micron transistors and the six-and-half times more compact than next-generation 0.13 micron transistors.

Where does this get us? Processors running at 10GHz and containing up to a billion transistors, Intel claims. Interestingly, Gerald Marcyk, the director of components research for Intel's technology and manufacturing group, mentioned in an interview with Reuters that a chip's real performance depends on the software it's running.

Presumably that's a sign Intel is changing its tack on the Pentium 4. The P4 isn't actually slower than the Pentium III - it's just being held back by the code users are running. So if you buy a P4 and you think it's not running any better than your old PIII, it's all your fault for not using the right software.

Of course, Intel's main interest is maintaining Moore's Law, named after one's of its founders. The chip maker reckons the new transistors will keep Moore's Law running smoothly through 2007. ®

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