It's front-page news today in the NYT and elsewhere: transistor jockeys at Intel will be the first to market with processors based on a 45-nanometer process, dramatically boosting performance and/or lowering power requirements for the new devices compared with the current 65nm parts. With the use of "high-k gate dielectrics" made with hafnium metal, Intel is implementing the biggest improvement in fundamental semiconductor technology in 40 years, according to company co-founder Gordon Moore (long retired, but sending in his two cents from Hawaii).
Intel is building two entirely new fabrication facilities to build the new process chips, in Arizona (up and running midyear) and Israel (early 2008). Of course, the part of this news we care most about 'round here: the new chips, codenamed "Penryn," are already running Mac OS X in the lab, will most likely be completely compatible with the existing Core 2 processors (with the addition of SSE4), and Intel expects a double-digit performance boost for media applications. Now that's what I'm talking about.