According to a report in The New York Times, a new microprocessor that Intel plans to introduce uses a new insulator that leaks less current near transistors, reducing power consumption, while at the same time enabling improved processing speed/performance.
They're called 45-nanometer generation chips -- a project more than ten years in the making -- and it will help Intel reassert itself against competitors in the low-power chip segment. In its pursuit of speed, Intel had fallen behind competitors in that dimension of chips, who were shifting to low-power alternatives.
Intel's here-to-fore emphasis on processing speed is understandable; it could be argued that, along with Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows breakthrough, Intel's semiconductor advances are the two engines that helped propel the impressive increases in worker productivity that have characterized the Digital Age since the early 1990s.
Further, recently Intel has been pressured by lower-cost competitors Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE:AMD), Texas Instruments (NYSE:TXN), and Samsung Electronics (OTC:SSNLF), with the latter grabbing the No.1 flash memory spot from Intel.
Wall Street has duly noted these inroads by Intel's competitors, and Intel's stock -- while it has not plummeted, has languished between $17 and $23 over the past year, after a sharp down-off from $28 in late 2005. Intel's shares closed Friday at $20.53, down 7 cents.
However, if Intel's new 45-nanometer chips perform as well as the company hopes, Intel's stock may start racing ahead as well, along with the performance of PCs, laptops, and other digital devices.