Production begins today at Intel's new $3-billion plant in Arizona, where the tech giant will produce new chips only 45 nanometers wide—a third smaller than current versions. The design of the new Penryn chip incorporates a transistor that scientists celebrated as the most significant breakthrough in microchips in decades. The new production facility should help to expand the already yawning gap between Intel and its nearest competitor, AMD.
The miniscule chip made at the 1,000-worker facility will allow machines to run more more quickly with lower energy consumption. But Intel's new factory is a triumph of PR as much as of technology: Intel is at least six months ahead of AMD in research and development. While AMD lost $1.6 billion in the first three quarters of 2007, Intel racked up a $4.7 profit. (Read more Intel stories.)