Saturday, June 7, 2008

Intel Promises “High Volumes” of Atom Processors by Fall

Despite of the fact that there are not a lot Intel Atom processors in the lineup of Intel Corp., due to tremendous interest for such chips from system makers, demand for these chips greatly exceeds supply. Intel admits that Atom processors are in tight supply, but says that by Fall shipment volumes of the low-power central processing units (CPU) will be considerably higher compared to today.

“We’ve got four 300mm fabs, so we can really hose this stuff out. By September, there are going to be very, very high volumes [of Intel Atom processors],” said Sean Maloney, Intel Corp.’s executive vice president and general manager of sales and marketing group, reports IDG News Service.

Back in late April it transpired that Intel cannot ship its much-discussed Atom processors in sufficient quantities for those makers who demand to build netbooks or nettops on their base. This is hardly surprising, as at Computex Taipei 2008 alone about ten Intel Atom-based designs were unveiled with considerably more suppliers interested to ship “atomic” systems under their brands.

Computer maker Asustek Computer said that it would have no problems if Intel solves supply problems with Atom processors by October so that to be in position to produce sufficient ammount of Atom-based devices for holiday season. However, keeping in mind the fact that many potential customers among students or those seeking for a low-cost mobile Internet device would like to acquire their new machines in August or September, tight supplies of Intel Atom processors may hurt computer vendors.

Intel Atom processors, just like the latest Intel Core 2 and Intel Xeon chips, are produced using 45nm process technology. At present Intel has two 300mm fabs that produce chips using 45nm process technology – D1D in Hillsboro, Oregon, and Fab 32 in Chandler, Arizona. Given that Intel has a plan to aggressively ramp up production of new desktop processors using the new process technology, a slight mistake in demand prediction automatically means shortages of Intel Atom chips, which hardly received the first priority from Intel. Two additional 45nm, 300mm manufacturing factories are scheduled to open this year in Kiryat Gat, Israel (Fab 28) and Rio Rancho, New Mexico (Fab 11x), which will let Intel to manufacture sufficient amount of Atom, Core 2 and Xeon processors. Approximately 2.5 thousand Atom processors can be made on a single 300mm wafer.

Intel offers Atom processors with various specs and power consumption for netbooks, nettops as well as handheld devices. Intel also readies dual-core Atom chips for inexpensive desktops.

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