Ik lees bij C|NET dat Intel's Willamette zo'n 170 vierkante mm groot zal zijn op een 0,18micron procédé. Ter vergelijking met de Pentium III is hij maar liefst 60% groter. Omdat hierdoor de productiekosten voor Intel dus vrij hoog liggen kan zijn dat de consument pas te maken krijgt met de Willamette zodra Intel de chip wat in kan krimpen:
Willamette, Intel's next-generation desktop processor expected to emerge later this year, will debut at 170 square millimeters, according to estimates from analysts. At that size, it will be 60 percent larger than today's Pentium III. While the larger size will allow Intel to pack more transistors onto the chip and add more features, it also means fewer chips can be produced out of a single wafer, which raises Intel's costs.
That has some worried that the transition to Willamette, Intel's first all-new desktop architecture since the Pentium Pro in 1995, could affect Intel's profit margins in the future.
[...] By contrast, Kumar predicted quantities of Willamette would be limited this year, partly because of the size of the chip. A shortage of factory capacity has also created a processor shortage, although Kumar noted that the company is investing heavily to bring more facilities on line by next year.
"The more wafers Intel devotes to Willamette, the fewer total processors it can produce," he said. "This problem will prevent Intel from selling significant quantities of Willamette this year, as the company is already capacity constrained and expects to be so until the end of the year."
Willamette is crucial to Intel's plans to stay ahead of rival Advanced Micro Devices. The two companies have been battling for the fastest clock speed since AMD debuted its Athlon last June. At 1 GHz, the current Pentium III design is nearing its peak. Willamette is slated to debut at a speed of at least 1.4 GHz.
[break]Niet iedereen ziet de grote die size van de Willamette als een probleem:[/break]Others think that the large die size won't hurt Intel that much, as Willamette will initially be a rather high-priced item. Credit Suisse First Boston analyst Charlie Glavin said that by the time Willamette is in the cost-sensitive segment of the market, Intel will have shrunk the chip as it has with previous processors.
"Don't be myopic about the first die size and product," Glavin cautioned investors. "You throw out the first one. It's like making pancakes."
It's not unusual for Intel to debut a processor at a large size, waiting for the next generation of thinner wiring to allow the chip to shrink to a less costly size. Intel is expected to move sometime next year to a 0.13-micron process, from today's 0.18 micron manufacturing line. The numbers refer to the size of components on the chip.
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