SANTA CLARA, Calif. Looking to beat its rivals to the punch, Intel Corp. is currently ramping up its new 90-nm process technology, with product shipments due by year end, as previously planned, according to officials from the microprocessor giant.
Intel is somewhat ahead of rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc. in the 90-nm, x86-based processor race, according to analysts. AMD has shown prototypes of its 90-nm processors, but the company is not expected to ramp up production until the second half of 2004 after encountering some process technology delays.
Intel, which claims its own process is on schedule, initially plans to ship a 90-nm version of its Pentium 4 microprocessor, code-named Prescott. This 32-bit processor is expected to be one of the fastest ramping products in the company's history, said Brian Fravel, Intel's director of desktop marketing.
"The 90-nm technology is up and running," Fravel said. "We have parts coming out of the fab right now. We're going to have revenue shipments this quarter," he said in an interview with Silicon Strategies.
Intel has big plans with Prescott, which is aimed for both the consumer and business markets, he said. "We are going to ship extraordinary large quantities of the part next year," he said.
Still, there are some issues lingering with the chip. There are reports that Intel's Prescott processor is experiencing thermal problems and is running at a whopping 103 watts. Reports have also surfaced that Intel has delayed its next-generation mobile processor, dubbed Dothan, although the company has denied those rumors. Dothan is a 90-nm version of Intel's current mobile processor, called Centrino.
"Thermal is an engineering challenge," Fravel said in the addressing the reports. "We are pretty confident that we have a solution to address the thermal issues."
Some believe the issues will be resolved later than sooner. "Prescott, the 90-nm successor to P4, and Dothan, has been sharply clock rate reduced, from 2.8-plus-GHz, to 2.2 to 2.4 GHz, both signs of lingering thermal issues," said analyst Rick Whittington of American Technology Research Inc., in a recent report.
"While we fully expect Intel to steadily ease its heat dissipation/power consumption issues on its 90-nm process, its principal cost reductions look to come from a rapid 300-mm full transition in the near term with clock rate enhanced 90-nm production more in 2H '04 and 2005," Whittington said in the report.