Intel has announced its next generation processors will be lead-free. Green issues are becoming more important even for large tech industry players as corporations seek to avoid adverse publicity from the glare of pro-green organisations.

Intel says the move, due to be introduced in its next-gen 45-nanometer process-based chips , is part of its "broad commitment to environmental sustainability".

The lead-free processors are known as the Intel 45nm Hi-k family and include the next-generation Core 2 Duo, Core 2 Quad and Xeon. The company will begin 45nm Hi-k production in the second half of this year.

"Intel is taking an aggressive stance toward environmental sustainability, from the elimination of lead," said Nasser Grayeli, head of Intel's test technology development.

Gaveli also said Intel was seeking to improve its record in other areas. He commented that there was "a focus on greater energy efficiency of our products to fewer air emissions and more water and materials recycling."

Lead is used in a variety of micro-electronic 'packages' and the so-called 'bumps' that attach a chip to the packages. Packages wrap around the chip and ultimately connect it to the motherboard.

Intel also said that during 2008 the company will transition its 65nm chipset products to 100 per cent lead-free technology.