Power Electronics

Revised VRM Specification Accompanies Migration to 45-nm Processors

Intel's recently announced move from 65-nm to 45-nm process technology in the next generation of Intel Core2 processors is having a big impact on fundamental transistor design for CPUs. But based on information provided by industry sources, the impact of the new 45-nm technology on the CPU power-supply design may be relatively minor.

According to industry sources, power requirements for the 45-nm processors, which are spelled out in Intel's VRM 11.1 specification, are similar to those specified in VRM 11.0, the Intel specification governing the power to CPUs built in 65-nm processes.

As one source summarized the changes, VRM 11.1 is essentially the same as VRM 11.0 except with provisions for light-load efficiency. The microprocessor sends a signal to the VRM when it's about to enter a light load operation. VRM developers can use that signal to optimize VRM efficiency.

By using a new material combination of high-k gate dielectrics and metal gates, Intel's 45-nm transistors significantly improve performance to deliver faster multi-core processors that consume less power. The first working 45-nm processors are already running multiple operating systems and various applications. Intel is on track for 45-nm production in the second half of 2007.

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