Through the new 40GB PS3, we've recently seen how using tiny 65nm electronic circuits can lead to lower power consumption, so it's encouraging to hear of the possibility of even smaller designs on the drawing board.

Although Toshiba, NEC and Fujitsu agreed in July to work together on 32nm chips, uncertainty on the part of Fujitsu has prevented them making progress. As of yesterday, Toshiba and NEC have agreed to press on regardless [Subscription link].

Two-year cycle

The two plan to begin production of the 32nm chips by 2010, which will keep the evolution of circuitry with ever-finer connections on track after the 45nm chips that are due next year.

Shrinking the size of the components used in chips, such as the Cell processor that powers the PlayStation 3, both makes them more efficient and saves on manufacturing costs. Nevertheless, the outlay required to develop each new generation is substantial, a fact that prompted the three-way tie-up in the first place.