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In a move that could challenge Intel’s burgeoning dominance as the processor
maker behind netbooks as well as its efforts to move into the smartphone space,
IBM and a host of partners have announced
plans for a 28-nanometer processor designed for mobile applications such as
netbooks and smartphones.

Intel has positioned its Atom processor as the processor of choice for
netbooks. A recent deal Intel struck with contract chip manufacturer TSMC
further positioned the company to move the Atom into the smartphone space.

But IBM’s deal, announced today, gives Intel
something it hasn’t had much of before in the netbook space: competition.

The IBM alliance includes contract chip
manufacturer Chartered, which has a longstanding existing alliance with IBM;
Globalfoundries; Infineon Technologies; Samsung Electronics; and
STMicroelectronics. Together, these companies announced that they are jointly
developing a 28nm manufacturing process for a low-power mobile chip.

The companies last month made an evaluation kit available to mobile device
manufacturers and say production of the chip design is anticipated in the
second half of 2010.

IBM says that early results show the 28nm
chip provides a 40 percent performance improvement and more than a 20 percent
reduction in power in a chip half the size of one produced with 45nm process
technology.

That means that chips based on the new 28nm process technology will offer low
standby power, faster processing speed and longer battery life.

IBM made the advancements through the use of
different materials such as high-k metal gates.

IBM made a similar announcement in September
2008 together with processor intellectual property company ARM
and the Common Platform Alliance (IBM,
Chartered and Samsung). That agreement called for development of a
comprehensive 32nm and 28nm system on chip (SOC) design platform. ARM’s
designs remain some of the most dominant in smartphones and other mobile phones
today.