Global computer company Intel unveiled the latest addition to its processor family this week: a new chipset temporarily named "Penryn." The innovative processor is based on hafnium, a metal that is used in transistor production as well as in nuclear plant control rods. It reduces electricity loss through the use of third-generation silicon materials, and also does away with the need to incorporate eco-unfriendly lead and halogen in the production process.

"These are the biggest transistor advancements in 40 years," Intel co-founder Gordon Moore said. The latest Penryn innovation drew upon expertise and experience accumulated during the Israeli development of the Centrino processor, company spokesman Koby Bahar told Israel21c.

The Penryn innovation was initially developed at Intel's centers in California, but the offices of Intel Israel, centered at their mammoth Research and Development Center in Haifa, played a crucial role in working out how to manufacture the new chip on a commercial scale.

The Haifa center forms a major component of Intel's global product pipeline. Founded over 30 years a

The transistors are so small that more than two million could fit onto the period at the end of this sentence.

go with only five staffers, Intel Israel - with large facilities also located at Petah Tikva, Jerusalem and Kiryat Gat - now employs nearly 7,000 people, and pumped more than $1.2 billion of export revenue into the Israeli economy last year.

Intel Israel scored its biggest coup to date in the 2003 development of the Centrino mobile chipset. The Centrino technology, initially designed for use in laptop computers, proved so fast and energy-effective that it rapidly began to appear in desktop PCs around the world as well.

The greenest chip yet

The latest development, though, is not just small and quick, but is also touted as being non-destructive to nature. Penryn boasts an ability to reduce the power leakage which normally manifests itself in a processor unit as heat.  It also has transistors measuring a mere 45 nanometers each - so small, that is, that more than two million could fit onto the period at the end of this sentence. That doesn't leave much room for energy loss - making the Penryn, in Intel's phrase, the "coolest" processor technology to date.

The company also has replaced lead-based solder components used in existing designs with tin, copper or silver alloys, and is also set to remove halogen based materials, which can generate ozone-damaging gases during production.

Intel claims that this gives it a new ability to deliver "faster and more energy-efficient processors that are better for the environment." The firm is marketing the processor with an image of sunflowers - so chosen for the plant's ability to remove heavy metals from contaminated soils - as a visual metaphor for the lead-free, green image which the company hopes to cultivate.

The Penryn processors will become available commercially within the next 45 days. While their manufacture is currently centered in Arizona, the product is soon set to gain a further Israeli flavor. Next year, Intel is due to open a state-of-the-art chipset production facility near Kiryat Gat - in an area known for its sunflower fields.