Intel 45nm chips promise longer laptop life

Intel says its new 45nm Penryn wafers are the biggest breakthrough in transistor technology for 40 years

Intel has revealed details on 16 new Penryn 45nm chips that go on sale in the New Year. The chips are expected to appear under the Xeon and Core 2 Duo brands and promise a huge boost in power and productivity for high-end desktop users, gamers and laptop owners.

We've already reviewed the first of these - the very high-end Core 2 Extreme QX9650. It's aimed at the enthusiast and gaming communities.

Laptop users will probably see the biggest benefit - the chips use new materials that help prevent the electricity leakage that can occur as circuit sizes get smaller. The new chips are said to be 15 per cent more efficient than previous gen 65nm designs, leading to longer battery life.

Read: Intel confirms 45nm, high-K for Penryn

Commenting on the new chips, Tom Kilroy, general manager of Intel's Digital Enterprise group, said: "This is more than just a new process shrink. Forty-five nanometers is wonderful and we get an uplift, but it really is the reinvention of the transistor."

Apple to benefit?

The arrival of the new chips couldn't be more perfect for Apple, which is likely to introduce new products using the chips at Macworld 2008 in January. Apple currently uses high-end Xeons in its Mac Pro desktop line, and Core 2 Duos in its iMac, as well as in the MacBook and MacBook Pro laptops.

The new Penryn chips could even see web video moving from blurry, pixellated and stuttery clips to shiny high definition versions. That's because the new chips use a set of 46 instructions called SSE4, which delivers much better video compression, according to the New York Times.

"Its biggest impact is high definition video," says Sean Moloney, Intel's chief sales and marketing officer. It will be highly addictive."