Intel introduces chips designed to improve Internet video quality

Intel last week announced a family of microprocessor chips designed to enable the use of HD video on the Internet.

Sean Maloney, Intel’s chief sales and marketing officer, told the “New York Times” that the chips’ increased computing power would begin the transformation of today’s YouTube-quality videos to high-resolution, full-screen quality that will begin to compete with broadcast HDTV receivers.

“Its biggest impact is high-definition video,” he said. “It will be highly addictive.”

Intel’s new microprocessor family — code-named Penryn and made up of 16 processors — would initially be used in servers and high-end desktops that compress video, the “Times” reported. They are the first chips based on a new 45nm manufacturing process that will give it a significant competitive advantage by increasing computing performance while reducing power consumption.

The chips use a re-engineered transistor that is about half the size of its predecessor. It switches more quickly, requires less switching power, and leaks less current than the previous transistor. To get better video compression, Intel has added a set of 46 instructions it calls SSE4 to the new microprocessors. The new instructions will make possible a new generation of servers that enhance the compression of digital video.

The transistors are built with new materials that help solve the critical problem of electricity loss as the circuitry gets smaller. “This is more than just a new process shrink,” Tom Kilroy, general manager of Intel’s Digital Enterprise Group, told the Associated Press. “Forty-five nanometers is wonderful and we get an uplift, but it really is the reinvention of the transistor.”

Intel, which plans to spend up to $8 billion on upgrading or building factories for the 45nm chips, is making the chips at two factories, in Oregon and Arizona. Next year, it will add two plants, in Israel and New Mexico.