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IBM builds 9 nanometer carbon nanotube transistor, puts silicon on notice

Friday, January 27th, 2012
IBM makes a 9 nanometer carbon nanotube transistor, puts silicon on notice

It’s not the smallest transistor out there, but the boffins at IBM have constructed the tiniest carbon nanotube transistor to date. It’s nine nanometers in size, making it one nanometer smaller than the presumed physical limit of silicon transistors. Plus, it consumes less power and is able to carry more current than present-day technology. The researchers accomplished the trick by laying a nanotube on a thin layer of insulation, and using a two-step process — involving some sort of black magic, no doubt — to add the electrical gates inside. The catch? (There’s always a catch) Manufacturing pure batches of semiconducting nanotubes is difficult, as is aligning them in such a way that the transistors can function. So, it’ll be some time before the technology can compete with Intel’s 3D silicon, but at least we’re one step closer to carbon-based computing.

IBM builds 9 nanometer carbon nanotube transistor, puts silicon on notice originally appeared on Engadget on Sat, 28 Jan 2012 00:34:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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AMD’s Fusion A-Series chips official: 10.5-hour battery life, DirectX11 graphics, and USB 3.0 support (video)

Monday, June 13th, 2011

AMD’s Llano platform has been on our radar for more than two years, and finally, the company has come clean with its latest class of hybrid CPU / GPU chips, officially dubbed the Fusion A-Series. Unlike the low-power flavor of Fusion accerlated processing units already on the market, these 32-nanometer APUs were designed with desktops and mainstream laptops in mind, taking direct aim at Intel’s Core 2011 processors with the promise of superior processing and discrete-level graphics, and 10-plus hours of battery life.

Aside from the assorted performance and battery life claims the company is making (much more on that in a moment), what this means is that as far as laptops go, AMD is completely stepping away from the standalone-CPU-plus-GPU paradigm. But, the company will still make dedicated Radeon cards, which can be coupled with an APU for a 75 percent boost in graphics performance — a setup AMD is calling “Dual Graphics.” All told, these chips measure just 228 square millimeters. To put this in context, check out the gallery of hands-on shots below, featuring the A-series next to a standalone CPU, discrete graphics card, and, for the sake of scale, the kind of low-power Fusion chip introduced back at CES.

A-Series-equipped PCs are already shipping, and AMD says we can expect to see at least 150 of them this year. That sounds promising indeed, but we’ve still got lots of technical details to rehash. Head on past the break for the full spill on what these APUs pledge to do, along with a video of AMD senior product marketing manager Raymond Dumbeck showing off some A-series laptops in action.

Continue reading AMD’s Fusion A-Series chips official: 10.5-hour battery life, DirectX11 graphics, and USB 3.0 support (video)

AMD’s Fusion A-Series chips official: 10.5-hour battery life, DirectX11 graphics, and USB 3.0 support (video) originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 13 Jun 2011 23:43:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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VIA says Eden X2 is world’s most power-efficient dual-core processor

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

Following close behind the low-power Nano X2 comes the Eden X2, or what VIA is calling “the world’s most power-efficient” fanless dual-core processor. While we’ve yet to see any official numbers, the original Eden did 500MHz on one watt of power, so we should see similarly thrifty specs here. Aside from that, the unit houses two 64-bit cores in a 21 x 21 millimeter package, is compatible with Windows CE and Linux operating systems, and was built using a 40-nanometer manufacturing process. The Eden X2 made its debut at the World Embedded conference this week, and should make it to the real world by the end of Q2. Full PR after the break.

Continue reading VIA says Eden X2 is world’s most power-efficient dual-core processor

VIA says Eden X2 is world’s most power-efficient dual-core processor originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 04 Mar 2011 02:25:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Texas Instrument takes lid off of OMAP 5 platform

Monday, February 7th, 2011

Just one week ahead of Mobile World Congress, U.S. electronics manufacturer Texas Instrument announced its next OMAP platform, OMAP 5.  The updated 5 platform utilized two Cortex-A15 cores that are capable of supporting 8GB of dynamic memory access while running at speeds of up to 2GHz per core. “The OMAP 5 processor includes individual, dedicated engines for: video, imaging and vision, DSP, 3D graphics, 2D graphics, display and security,” writes Texas Instrument. “The processor also includes two ARM Cortex-M4 processors for offloading real-time processing from the Cortex-A15 cores to improve low-level control and responsiveness of mobile devices.” TI is promising 1080p and 3DS recording and playback along with the “real-time conversion of 2D content to S3D at 1080p resolution” from the 28-nanometer chipset. The OMAP 5 platform will, undoubtedly, be powering the next wave of superphones from wireless manufacturers the world over.

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Intel officially outs Core i3, i5 and i7 ULV processors for those ultra-thin laptops

Monday, May 24th, 2010

We can’t say this one is much of a surprise, but it sure is good to get the official details on Intel’s latest ultra-low voltage Core i3, i5 and i7 processors. Just as we had heard, the new dual-core CPUs will be landing this June, and though they won’t be replacing the current Celeron and Pentium ULVs on the market, they’ll certainly provide a more powerful option for the “ultra-thin” category. All the new 32-nanometer Nehalam chips are said to provide 32 percent better performance than previous ULVs, but a 20 percent power reduction than standard-voltage Core 2010 CPUs. And just like those regular Core 2010 processors, these get the same Turbo Boost and Hyper-threading performance advantages. All the processors have TDPs of 17 watts which is what is enabling the 50 percent improvement in thermal performance. That’s all the technical details Intel shared this morning, but it shouldn’t be long before we up and testing the performance and battery life of these new chips in slim laptops from MSI, Lenovo and Acer. Until then, there’s the full press release after the break.

Continue reading Intel officially outs Core i3, i5 and i7 ULV processors for those ultra-thin laptops

Intel officially outs Core i3, i5 and i7 ULV processors for those ultra-thin laptops originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 24 May 2010 10:59:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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TI stuffs WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth and FM radios on a single chip, UWB and LTE are like ‘hello?’

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Heads-up, kids — Mobile World Congress is but days away from liftoff, and it looks like Texas Instruments will be there with a purpose. The company has today introduced what it’s calling the “industry’s first quad-radio single chip,” which throws 802.11n, GPS, FM transmit / receive and Bluetooth radios onto a single 65-nanometer WiLink 7.0 solution. Purportedly, this device reduces costs by 30 percent, size by 50 percent and bragging rights by 894 percent. The chip is currently sampling to OEMs with undisclosed names, which could mean that a prototype phone or two will be taking advantage in Barcelona. Fingers crossed.

Continue reading TI stuffs WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth and FM radios on a single chip, UWB and LTE are like ‘hello?’

TI stuffs WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth and FM radios on a single chip, UWB and LTE are like ‘hello?’ originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 09 Feb 2010 10:22:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Giz Explains: Intel’s Entire Confusing Armada of Chips [Giz Explains]

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Intel makes a lot of processors. Too many, maybe. Don’t know what the difference a Core i7 and a Core 2 Duo? A Bloomfield from a Wolfdale? A Sasquatch from a Yeti? You’re not alone.

Chips, Chipsets and Damned Chipsets

Okay, so the first thing to understand is that an Intel brand, like Core 2 or Core i7, actually refers to a whole bunch of different processors. Although they generally have the same basic microarchitecture (in other words, chip design), the brand envelopes both desktop and mobile chips, chips with radically different clock speeds, that use different motherboard sockets, etc.

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Because of these differences, each particular chip is given a codename, chosen for obscure geographical locations (seriously, plug just about any codename into Google Maps). For instance, the original mobile Core 2 Duo processor was Merom, and it was replaced after about two years by Penryn, which was manufactured using a new 45-nanometer process to be more efficient. Quite different, these two, but Intel pimped both as Core 2 Duos nonetheless.

Although Intel doesn’t market chips according to their codenames, the individual chip gets a model number that gives you an idea of how it compares, spec-wise (clock speed, cache size, etc.), to other chips in the same group. So, a Core i7-950 is gonna be faster than a Core i7-920, and a Core 2 Duo P8600 isn’t going to quite stack up to a Core 2 Duo P9600. The difference between a P8400 and P8600 is obviously less than the difference between a P8600 and a P9600. To match a particular chip codename to a particular model number, though, you probably have to do some Googlin’ (or Bingin’).

In some cases, Intel pushes chips with a ULV designator for “ultra-low voltage,” which doesn’t mean anything in particular in terms of chip design, since it includes several brands of chips, from Core 2 to Celeron. The point is that these chips power notebooks that are almost as portable at netbooks, but are more expensive, so computer makers (and Intel) make more money.

While we’re at it, I might as well explain what the hell Centrino is. It’s not a single chip, it’s a platform. That is, it’s a combo meal for notebooks with a mobile processor, a chipset (essentially the silicon that lets the processor talk to the rest of the computer) and a wireless networking adapter. Typically, Intel releases a new combo meal every year, though they’re all been called Centrino, with the most recent making the leap to being called Centrino 2.

The reason we decided to tell you all this stuff now is that Intel is gradually phasing out the Core 2 family, like Pentiums before that, and is moving Core i7, Core i5 and Core i3 up to take its place. This is how all the families relate to each other…

Nehalem Rising: Core i7, Core i5 and Core i3

Core i7 systems use a totally new microarchitecture called Nehalem, and it’s badass.

The first set of Core i7 chips, codenamed Bloomfield, launched in November 2008 for high-end desktops. They’re the most outrageously fast Core i7 chips, with triple-channel memory (meaning they’re able to use memory sticks in triplets rather than pairs) and other blazing accoutrements.

The new Core i7 chips, launched last month, are for desktop and mobile. The desktop variant is codenamed Lynnfield, and it more closely resembles its mobile equivalent, codenamed Clarksfield, than it does the Bloomfield monster—dual-channel memory, not triple, for instance.

You’ll be seeing a lot more Clarksfield in the next couple weeks, like in the HP Envy 15, since most computer makers were holding off for Windows 7 to drop their new laptops. All of the Core i7 processors are quad-core, even the mobile Clarksfield, so you’re not gonna see it in anything like Dell’s skinny Adamo.

Core i5 is going to be Intel’s more mainstream Nehalem-microarchitecture chip brand, and as a broader brand, the chip differentiation gets a little more confusing. Core i5 actually includes some, but not all, of the desktop Lynnfield processors. For now, the only Core i5 chip is quad-core, but you’re going to start seeing dual-core Core i5 chips, and soon enough they will make up the bulk of Intel’s mainstream processors. In English: Unless you’re looking for a crazyfast new computer, your next machine will probably run an Intel Core i5 CPU.

Eventually, dual-core Core i3 chips will come out, and as you can guess by the number, they won’t be quite as fast—or expensive—as the Core i5 or i7 chips.

Netbook’s Best Friend: Atom N and Z

Atom is probably the Intel chip you hear about second only to Core 2 Duo: It’s essentially the CPU that goes inside of netbooks. There are a couple of different variations out now, the N series (codename Diamondville) and the Z series (codename Silverthorne). The Diamondville chips are for nettops and netbooks, and can handle full versions of Windows Vista and 7. Silverthrone is used in netbooks but was designed for smaller connected devices like UMPCs and MIDs. (This is why Sony shoving an underpowered Atom Z in the Vaio P, and trying to run Windows Vista on top of it, was retarded.)

The next generation of Atom is more interesting, and more confusing, in a way. The CPU is codenamed Pineview, and it’s actually got the graphics processor integrated right onto the same chip, precluding the need for a separate GPU tucked into the netbook’s overall chipset. The benefit is longer battery life, since it’ll take less energy to crunch the same visuals. We’ll start seeing Pineview netbooks sometime early next year, most likely.

Oldies But Goodies: Core 2 Duo, Quad and Extreme

Intel’s Core 2 chips have been out three years now, an eternity in computer years. Because of this, and because they’re the main ones used in most personal desktop and laptop systems, there is a metric shitton of different Core 2 chips.

It’s also more confusing because there are way more codenames to wade through. Let’s start from the top: Core 2 Solo has one core, Core 2 Duo two, and Quad has four (as does Extreme). From there, you have two distinct generations of chips within the Core 2 family.

In the first generation of Core 2 Duos, the main desktop chip was Conroe (with a cheaper variant called Allendale), while the main mobile one was called Merom. There was also a branch of Core 2 Quads called Kentsfield.

The next generation (that is, the current generation, unless you’re already on the Core i7 bandwagon) arrived with a new process for making chips with even smaller transistors. Among other more technical differences, they were more energy efficient than their predecessors. With this generation of Core 2s, the mainstream desktop chips are Wolfdale, the desktop quad-cores are called Yorkfield, and the mobile chips are Penryn—if you’ve bought a decent notebook in the last two years, it’s probably got a Penryn Core 2 inside of it.

Ancient History: Pentium and Celeron

Pentium is dead, except it’s not, living on as a zombie brand for chips that aren’t as good as Core chips, but aren’t as crappy as Intel’s low-end Celeron processors. If you see a machine with a sticker for Pentium or Celeron, run.

Okay, I hope that helps, at least a little—you should probably thank me for staying away from clock speeds and other small variations, like individual permutations of Core i7 Bloomfield processors, to hopefully give you a broader overview of what all’s going on. Intel told me it’ll all make more sense once their entire road map for the year is out on the market, but I have a feeling it’s not gonna help my mom understand this crap one bit better.

Top image via soleiletoile/Flickr

Thanks to Intel for helping us sort all this out!

Still something you wanna know? Send questions about sweet potato chips, pumpkin pie or turduckens to tips@gizmodo.com, with “Giz Explains” in the subject line.



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