This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

April 04, 2007

Intel and Raytheon Developing More Efficient Computer Processors

Intel Corporation announced on March 28th that it will begin producing a more energy-efficient, next-generation family of computer processors in the second half of this year. The Penryn family of processors will include a dual-core processor for mobile computers, dual- and quad-core processors for desktop computers, dual- and quad-core processors for servers, and a processor for "higher-end server multiprocessing systems," according to Intel.

Drawing on new technology that shrinks each transistor on the chip to a mere 45 nanometers (nm), or billionths of a meter, the new quad-core processors will incorporate 820 million transistors. The 45-nm transistors save energy by switching more than 20 percent faster with a reduction in switching power of about 30 percent, while power leakage through the transistor is cut by more than an order of magnitude. The Penryn processors will not only save energy and boost performance in desktop models, but will also extend battery life in laptop computers, using what Intel is calling "Deep Power Down Technology." Intel claims to have 15 products under development using the 45-nm technology, and is already making plans for its subsequent family of processors, to be called Nehalem. See the Intel press release and 45-nm processor Web page.

Meanwhile, the Raytheon Company claims to have built the world's most power-efficient processor. Dubbed the MONARCH, the processor is designed to perform signal processing for the Department of Defense. According to Raytheon, the processor is more efficient than Intel's quad-core Xeon chip by a factor of 10. Raytheon claims that the chip's unique architecture and high efficiency enable the development of defense systems for such purposes as video processing, global positioning, and airborne and space radar systems. See the Raytheon press release.