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Intel has launched Penryn

Chip-maker Intel has launched a range of processors, known as Penryn, which will power the next generation of PCs. The tiny chips contain a novel material and have features just 45 nanometres (billionths of a metre) wide. The only PC processor in the line-up of 16 chips packs 820 million of the tiny switches into an area little bigger than a postage stamp. "Had we used the same transistors that we used in our chips 15 to 20 years ago, the chip would be about the size of a two-storey building," said Bill Kircos of Intel. Paul Otellini, head of Intel, described the challenge of building the chips as "awe-inspiring". Although the chip-maker is the first company to make microprocessors with such tiny features, other companies, such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), are producing other types of silicon chip. "We have 45nm designs in production," said Chuck Byers of the firm. TSMC manufactures chips on behalf of other companies. Material world The launch of the new multi-core chips comes nearly 60 years after the transistor was invented. The brainchild of three scientists working at the research labs of the US Bell System telephone company, the tiny switches have gone on to underpin the silicon age.

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