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Intel CEO: More SoCs than CPUs coming soon

Posted: 24 Sep 2009     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:CPU  Intel SoC  EUV  lithography 

Intel Corp. will someday ship more SoC devices than PC processors, according to CEO Paul Otellini's keynote at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF). To enable the shift, the company rolled out new software efforts to drive its Atom-based chips into handsets and other devices.

Separately, Otellini showed the company's first working 22nm SRAM devices, 364Mbit chips with 290 crore transistors. Intel plans to ship products using 22nm technology in late 2011 and will have its first Westmere-based chips based on 32nm technology before the end of this year.

Intel is using its existing 193nm immersion lithography with double patterning on "just a few layers" for the 22nm process. It expects to extend the double patterning for its 15nm generation targeted at use for products in 2013.

"I wish we could have extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography for 15nm, but it doesn't look like it will be available on Intel's schedule," said Intel senior fellow Mark Bohr. "So we think we see a way to extend our immersion technology for 15nm, and we hope to have EUV for our 11nm work," he added.

"We don't need [triple patterning] at the 22nm node," Bohr added. "At 15nm there may be one or two layers that require triple exposure, but we haven't decided that yet, he said.

In the keynote, Otellini demonstrated a notebook computer using SandyBridge, a second-generation 32nm design with integrated graphics. "We have shipped more than 200 million (20 crore) 45nm processors to date, while our competition has shipped zero," he added.

The technology will increasingly serve future SoCs targeted at a wide array of markets from cell phones to car entertainment systems. "I can easily see a time where Intel will ship more SoCs than standard microprocessors," said Otellini.

The company has more than a dozen 32nm SoCs in development using the Atom core and a common set of libraries and interconnect models, he said. The company has developed a common 45nm Atom core called Bonnell and a 32nm version called Saltwell.

The deal announced earlier this year to port Atom to the processes of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. is integral to penetrating new SoC markets for Intel. "We are not doing this not for capacity but to reach out to new customers," Otellini said.

To help drive Atom into new markets, Otellini showed two new software initiatives.

The company has started a developer's program targeted at its Moblin version of mobile Linux on Atom, initially focused on netbooks. In the future, versions of the program will be announced for handsets and consumer devices.

In addition, the company has started to talk about a version 2.1 of Moblin with extensions targeted at handsets. Otellini demoed a new user interface geared for version 2.1 targeted at handsets. It borrowed and extended ideas from both the Apple iPhone and Palm Pre.

Intel expects its Medfield Atom-based SoC based on 32nm technology to be used in smart phones. It will ship in mid 2011.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times





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