The number of chip vendors around is likely to shrink by at least 40 over the next decade, according to recent predictions from Gartner.

Things have not been great in the semiconductor industry in the 21st centuary so far. The sharp downturn in high-tech spending that started in 2001 only began to improve at the end of last year, and that improvement is not expected to last. This, and other factors, are expected to decrease the number of players in the market.

"As chip makers begin integrating features like processing, networking, and graphics onto single chips, many companies that today focus on a particular system function will have to change their ways. That will, in turn, lower the number of chip-makers in the industry."

Ten years from now, Intel is expected to be working with the 20-nanometer (nm) process, far and away smaller than the current 90nm process, which is just new. By this time, its expected that Intel processors will be in the 20 billion transistor range. Currently, Intel processors such as the Itanium 2 only contain 200 million transistors.