Intel develops the eco-chip, with Israeli help

The latest Penryn innovation, according to an Intel spokesperson, drew upon expertise and experience garnered during the Israeli development of the Centrino processor.For a long time, the world of high tech has been all about chasing after superlatives – after …

The latest Penryn innovation, according to an Intel spokesperson, drew upon expertise and experience garnered during the Israeli development of the Centrino processor.For a long time, the world of high tech has been all about chasing after superlatives – after the newest, smallest, fastest and sleekest. Now it’s possible to add another superlative to that wish list, thanks in part to Israeli know-how, with the launch of the greenest computer chip in the world.

On Saturday global computer company Intel unveiled its latest addition to its processor family: a new chipset provisionally named ‘Penryn.’ The innovative hafnium-based “Hi-k” processor, which reduces electricity loss, or “capacitance,” through the use of third-generation silicon materials, also does away with the need to incorporate eco-unfriendly lead and halogen materials in the production process.

“These are the biggest transistor advancements in 40 years,” Intel co-founder Gordon Moore said.

While the Penryn innovation was initially developed at Intel’s centers in California, the offices of Intel Israel, centered at their mammoth Research and Development Center in Haifa, played a crucial role in working out how the new chip micro-architecture could be manufactured on a commercial scale.

The Haifa center forms a major component of Intel’s global product pipeline. Founded over 30 years ago with only five staffers, Intel Israel – with large facilities also located at Petah Tikva, Jerusalem and Kiryat Gat – now employs nearly 7,000 people, and last year pumped more than $1.2 billion of export revenue into the Israeli economy.

Intel Israel scored its biggest coup to date in the 2003 development of the Centrino mobile chipset, which came, according to company spokesman Koby Bahar, as a “true breakthrough” in computing performance. The Centrino technology, initially designed for use in laptop computers, proved so fast and energy-effective that it rapidly began to appear in desktop PCs around the world as well.

The latest Penryn innovation drew upon expertise and experience garnered during the Israeli development of the Centrino processor, Bahar told ISRAEL21c. Such expertise has ensured that “Moore’s Law”, a high tech axiom which predicts that transistor counts double about every two years, thrives well into the next decade.

The latest development, though, adds a new buzzword to the old imperatives of size and speed: eco-friendliness. Penryn boasts an ability to reduce the power leakage which normally manifests itself in a processor unit as heat, with the new hafnium-based chips measuring a mere 45 nanometers each – so small, that is, that more than two million could fit onto the period at the end of this sentence. That doesn’t leave much room for energy loss – making the Penryn, in Intel’s phrase, the “coolest” processor technology to date.

The company also has replaced lead-based solder components used in existing designs with tin, copper or silver alloys, and is also set to remove halogen based materials, which can generate ozone-damaging gases during production.

What this all means, Intel claims, is a new ability to deliver “faster and more energy-efficient processors that are better for the environment.” The global behemoth is marketing the processor with an image of sunflowers – so chosen for the plant’s ability to remove heavy metals from contaminated soils – as a visual metaphor for the lead-free, green image which the company hopes to cultivate.

Meanwhile the Penryn processors, depending on model specifications, will become available commercially within the next 45 days.

While manufacture is currently centered in Arizona, the product is soon set to gain a further Israeli flavor. Next year, Intel is due to open a state-of-the-art chipset production facility near Kiryat Gat – in an area known, rather appropriately, for its sunflower fields.

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