Monday, February 04, 2008

Intel to unveil new chip technology

Intel will unveil a breakthrough today with an emerging memory-chip technology called phase-change while touting a key new chip for handheld Internet devices that it says will be less than a quarter of the size of its present chips for personal computers.

The Santa Clara chip maker said it has been able to demonstrate a method for doubling the capacity of phase-change memory. It will reveal the breakthrough at the Solid State Circuits Conference in San Francisco.

Phase-change products are expected to reach the market within a couple of years and could replace the NOR flash memory chips used in cell phones. They have been given their name because the material chalcogenide that is used in their construction changes its state from liquid to crystalline to store data.

The added capacity will make phase-change a more attractive alternative to NOR flash, said Steve Cullen, an independent industry analyst.

Also at the conference, Intel will offer technical details about its Silverthorne processor for portable Internet devices and handhelds. The chip will be less than a quarter of the size of the Penryn chip for desktop computers, allowing it to fit easily in small devices, and run at one-tenth the power of some of Intel's lowest-powered chips today.

Warren East, chief executive of competitor ARM, said: "I don't think you're going to see any blinding flashes of light."