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Intel Enters Billion-Transistor Processor Era

LONDON — Intel Corp. has started sampling an Itanium-2, 64-bit microprocessor that was made by linking together 1.72 billion transistors. The processor, codenamed Montecito, was discussed as far back as August 2002, but it is now sampling to some Intel customers, a company spokesman said.

Montecito exceeds the billion-transistor count because the Itanium-2 processor architecture is itself complex — a 64-bit processor intended for server applications — and the Montecito model integrates two processing cores. It also has 26-Mbytes of on-chip cache (208-Mbits), according to reports.

Intel’s first dual-core processor for mobile applications such as notebook computers, code-named Yonah, is also due to start shipping for revenue at the end of the year and to launch in volume in 2006.

Intel announced it was accelerating its schedule to get to one billion transistors on an IC in July 2004, saying it was aiming to deliver a billion-transistor chip in 2005, rather than the original target date of 2007.

"The goal was a billion transistors in 2007. The [new] goal is a billion transistors in 2005," said Jai Hakhu, vice president of Intel's Technology Manufacturing Group at the time. "This has been advanced by a couple of years," Hakhu then added, without elaborating on which Intel chip would reach the milestone first.

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