REBECCA ROBERTS, host:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rebecca Roberts.
Intel announced the other day that it will begin making microchips with a new material, the element hafnium. Industry analyst Nathan Brookwood says the new chips will be smaller and faster, but also more efficient, since they won't leak electricity like today's silicon dioxide chips.
Mr. NATHAN BROOKWOOD (Industry Analyst): And that translates to operating at cooler temperatures, using less power, giving you more battery life on your notebook computer, or if you're using let's say in a cell phone, and so forth. So this is really huge.
ROBERTS: Brookwood says the microchip industry has been looking for a replacement for silicon dioxide for at least a decade, perpetually worried that it had almost hit the point where chips just couldn't get any smaller.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. BROOKWOOD: Often people say, oh, the gravy train is about to come to an end. We will not be able to keep this up. And then somebody comes along with a breakthrough like this and everything continues to flow nicely.
ROBERTS: IBM says it too will be using new material in its chips, but it's being much more cagey about what that material is.
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