Intel has outlined a selection of new products, chip designs and manufacturing technologies at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco. One of the highlights is Intel's first working 32 nanometer (32nm) chip.

Speaking to developers at IDF, Intel CEO Paul Otellini showed off the world's first working processor built using a 32nm process. According to Intel, it contains transistors so small that more than 4 million of them could fit on the full stop at the end of this sentence.

Smaller is better

Commercially available processors haven't even finished making the transition from a 90nm process to a 65nm one - Intel has pretty much moved over; AMD is lagging behind. But Intel's roadmap leads to 45nm 'Penryn' chips and onwards to smaller 32nm versions.

The obvious advantage of creating ever-smaller chips is that they consume less power, whilst also giving a significant boost in performance. They're also much more energy efficient (so they waste much less energy in the form of heat).

Intel's 32nm chips incorporate logic and static random access memory (SRAM) to house more than 1.9 billion transistors using the company's second-generation high-k and metal gate transistor technology.

The additional performance made possible by this will not only be seen in computing, but will reportedly enable "more true-to-life entertainment and realistic graphics capabilities". As a result, Otellini said Intel will be placing increased emphasis on using the power of its processors to enhance key technologies such as visual computing and graphics.

32nm is coming in 2009

"Satisfying demand for ever-greater computer performance increases means we need to move rapidly to the next manufacturing technology," said Otellini.

"Intel engineers and researchers deserve a great deal of credit for setting the pace for the industry. As our advanced technology reaches consumers and businesses in the next couple of years, the amount of computing power they'll be able to harness will help them become even more productive, creative and innovative."

Otellini says that the 32nm chips will go into large scale production at some point during 2009.

In the meantime however, Intel is gearing itself up to start pumping out its upcoming 45nm family of Penryn processors, which are based on first-generation high-k metal gate transistor technology. The industry's first 45nm processors will be available from Intel in November.