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New process heralds Intel 3GHz P4 chips

Chip manufacturer Intel is promising 3 GHz Pentium 4 (P4 ) processors by the end of 2002, thanks to the a new fabrication process.

Intel claims that moving to a 0.13-micron chip core means Intel can get nearly twice the number of chips on a 200-mme processor die than it could with 0.18-micron core.

The 0.13-micron manufacturing process allows Intel to pack components more tightly on a chip, which can boost speed and lower cost, as well as reduce heat and power consumption, according to Intel.

Some of the cost savings produced by the new manufacturing processes will be passed on to PC makers, said Intel.

The new P4 processor will be Intel's first based on the company's Northwood core, which features 512KBytes of Level 2 cache compared to current 0.18-micron Pentium 4 processors that offer only 256KBytes of cache.

"Larger cache does provide an important performance benefit," said Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst at Insight 64. "It's more than the increase you would get going from 2GHz to 2.2GHz [with the smaller cache]."

Chips using the Northwood core will also run at 1.5 volts, compared to 1.75 volts for current P4 processors. Lowering the voltage lets the chips run cooler.

In the first half of 2002 Intel plans to improve the efficiency of its Pentium 4 chip making process with a transition to a 300-mm wafer die. According to Intel the 300-mm die will yield almost three times the number of Pentium 4 chips as the current 200-mm die.

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