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San Jose, CA — New semiconductor fabrication techniques that will allow manufacturers to surmount the 2-GHz performance barrier are among the key microprocessor technology developments to watch in 2001, according to a forecast presented by Steve Leibson, Vice President and Chief Analyst at Cahners MicroDesign Resources (MDR). They include spray-on transistor technology developed at the University of Cambridge that will allow 5-micron polymer transistors to be imprinted on a wide range of surfaces and a nanofabrication technique developed at University of California-Irvine that will enable fabrication of 15-nm molybdenum wires using electrodeposition.
Leibson’s forecast was one of nine presented tonight at the second annual Analyst’s Choice awards dinner meeting, held at the Hyatt Sainte Claire, at which MDR presented its awards for the best processors and most significant new microprocessor technology unveiled in 2000.
Looking ahead to 2001, forecast highlights included predictions in eight market segments from the MDR team of senior analysts and Microprocessor Report senior editors:
— Forecasting trends for PC processors, Kevin Krewell predicted that Intel’s Pentium 4 will continue to be the fastest such device on the market throughout 2001, but the new 0.13-micron version of the Pentium 4 to be introduced in Q4 – codenamed Northwood – will need balanced performance.
— In mobile PC processors, according to Krewell, Intel will be the first to introduce a device with a 1-GHz operating frequency, and will stay ahead of the curve with the 0.13-micron Tualatin, expected to ship later this year.
— Max Baron, Microprocessor Report Editor-in-Chief, predicted that processors for workstations and servers will become still more scalable, supporting applications from text to broadcasting and with new features that will ensure secure distribution of media content and support the development of new storage-dedicated systems.
— Network processors are the fastest growing segment of the microprocessor industry, according to a forecast by Peter N. Glaskowsky, but network equipment makers are likely to spend the next two or three years identifying the proper role for these devices in their systems. For 2001, Glaskowsky expects a shakeout as network chip suppliers are acquired or go by the wayside.
— Key trends for the media processor market cited by Glaskowsky include the rapid growth of digital TV and the expansion of digital media processing capabilities into consumer applications such as digital video recorders, video conferencing, stereo systems, and the handheld multimedia market.
— The year 2001 will see an amplified need for highly integrated processors, according to Cary Snyder. Older architectures are likely to be phased out, while new devices will need clock speeds that are optimized for minimal power consumption. For the booming information appliance market, right-sizing hardware and software will become a priority.
— For DSPs, 3G wireless will become a hot new application, according to Markus Levy, while the race for faster clock speeds proceeds unabated.
— Many suppliers of embedded processors, following the trend toward faster speeds and lower power, will be moving to a 0.13-micron process, according to Levy. More multi-core devices will be introduced for high-end applications, while Java will begin to take on a bigger role, especially in the wireless arena.
About MicroDesign Resources
MicroDesign Resources, a Cahners company, is recognized as a leading provider of in-depth analysis of today’s electronic industry trends for technical and business decision makers. MDR’s team of staff analysts are respected worldwide for their credible, unbiased views. MDR’s Microprocessor Report, published weekly on the Web and in a monthly print edition, focuses on the constant advances in the microprocessor industry. Topics range from the most up-to-date analysis of developments in PC, server, workstation, and embedded processors, to the latest acceleration technology for 3D and video.