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Monday, December 15, 2003, 09:00 am PT (12:00 pm ET)

Sources comment on IBM's 65-nm process, plans

About 10 months ago, IBM began to layout the foundation for a major architectural revamp to the PowerPC line that will allow chips to run much cooler for mobile and embedded applications, sources recently told AppleInsider.

The first fruits of the endeavorer are rumored to include a 64-bit PowerPC 300 series built on a 65-nanometer (nm) process. The series will reportedly tip-off with the PowerPC 350 due out in mid-2005, and will be proceeded by the 45-nm PowerPC 360 in 2007, according to preliminary documents detailing IBM's PowerPC roadmap.

Sources were unsure if the PowerPC 300 series would debut as a variant of the cell processor, but did confirm that it will utilize the PowerPC instruction set. The chips will reportedly consist of many specialized cores—each handling one or two instructions—connected together by an ultra-wide high bandwidth on-chip-fabric capable of processing 128GB of data per second.

A subsequent report on IBM's 65-nm process claims that IBM's Fiskill fab has been tooled, and engineers have recently begun to produce experimental parts, and work out the bugs. "The first primordial [65-nm] components should be produced soon," sources said, "just slightly behind those of Intel."

However, it's expected to take approximately 18 months before Phase III of East Fishkill fab will be capable of producing complex microprocessors on a 65-nm process.

In August, IBM announced that it had entered into a multi-year agreement with Infineon Technologies AG and Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing to speed up the process of 65-nanometer chip development, and later 45-nm chips. The announcement also cited a focus on variants tuned for high performance and low power — presumably the PowerPC 300 series.