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February 29th, 2008
AMD is leaning increasingly on IBM as it battles with Intel for next-generation microprocessor manufacturing leadership. And the payout to IBM is significant.
First some background: On Tuesday, AMD announced that IBM had successfully produced a working test chip using next-generation Extreme Ultra-Violet (EUV) lithography for the critical first layer of metal connections across an entire chip. Previous projects utilizing EUV produced working chip components on only a very small portion of the chip.
Why EUV? The size of transistors and the metal lines that connect them is directly related to the wavelength of light that is used to project a chip design onto a wafer. EUV lithography uses a wavelength of 13.5 nanometers (nm), significantly shorter than today's 193nm lithography techniques, allowing the march toward smaller and smaller chip features to continue (though EUV has its own set of problems discussed below). EUV is currently targeted at the 22nm generation of chips, due in three to five years. Intel, a few years back, was targeting EUV for the 45nm generation of chips but abandoned it.
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