Intel shakes chip world with ‘skyscraper’ transistors

Chip giant Intel on Wednesday claimed a “major technical breakthrough”, introducing high volume production of the world’s first 3D transistor design. The technology could deliver significant performance gains to mobile devices while avoiding an increase in power consumption. Expect to see the developments implemented in Intel’s Atom chipsets.

The developments will see the building blocks of microprocessors, transistors, enhanced from a two dimensional planar structure to a three dimensional one called the Tri Gate. Working at the microscopic scale of 22 nanometres, Intel has replaced the traditional flat two-dimensional planar gate with a thin 3D fin that rises up vertically from the silicon substrate, sporting a gate on each of the three sides of the fin, rather than just one on top.

The inspiration came from urban planners who use skyscrapers to build upwards to maximise space. The additional height allows more current to flow when the transistor is in the “on” state and as close to zero as possible when it is in the “off” state, with rapid switches between the two.

Tri-Gate transistors provide up to 37 per cent performance increase on half the power of Intel’s 32nm planar transistors, making them ideal for use in small handheld devices. The development also pushes Moore’s Law into new realms.

Tri Gate will go into high-volume manufacturing in an Intel chip codenamed “Ivy Bridge” by the end of this year. An integration timeline for the Atom has not yet been announced.

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One comment

  1. Avatar Headshots Los Angeles 05/05/2011 @ 5:32 pm

    I knew Intel would come out with a new break through. There’s no way they would let Arm Holdings take all the Smart Phone and iPad market

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