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Nano Greasing the Skids for Intel

On Thursday, Intel (Nasdaq: INTC  ) narrowed its fourth-quarter revenue forecast, saying that it now expected sales of $10.4 billion to $10.6 billion -- instead of $10.2 billion to $10.8 billion. What this means is pretty much exactly nothing because the midpoint of the range remains $10.5 billion.

I've said before that I'm very bullish on Intel's long-term prospects. To give you a reason, I'll point you to some other news Intel released this week that is actually of some substance: The company said it was experimenting with new materials in an effort to boost chip performance.

Intel officials acted as though this was "new" news, but in May I wrote about Intel's nanotechnology-related activity. I noted that the atomic features of this material, dubbed indium antimonide, yielded some extraordinary improvements in chip performance and could give Intel a leg up over competitors like Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD  ) and IBM (NYSE: IBM  ) .

Indium antimonide is significant because it has been shown to have the potential to increase transistor performance by 50%. For an industry that makes its living by pumping electrons around at an ever faster rate, this is a noteworthy achievement. More important, though, is that the new material has the potential to reduce power consumption by 10 times. If you have ever cursed at how fast the battery in your laptop drains, you know how significant this can be.

What the new material does, in essence, is grease the skids for electrons, allowing them to move faster from one part of the transistor to the other, all while using less power. And because this combination of speed and power is the name of the game in the semiconductor industry, I reiterate my claim that investors are better off focusing more attention on this news -- and less on the fourth-quarter revenue forecast -- because it is yet another example of how nanotechnology is greasing the skids for long-term growth.

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Fool contributor Jack Uldrich has been thinking small since grade school. He is the author of two books on nanotechnology, including the forthcoming Investing in Nanotechnology: Think Small, Win Big. He owns shares of Intel. The Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.

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