Intel has created the world’s first three-dimensional transistor and will begin manufacturing with their 22-nanometer process in late 2011, the company announced Wednesday.
The innovative new design represents a major advancement in transistor structure, which has used two-dimensional structures for nearly 50 years.
The 3D design, dubbed Tri-Gate, differs from a traditional transistor that transports electrons with flat, or “planar” movement; the new transistors now have a three-sided structure that allows conduction of electrons on three surfaces rather than just one.
Having three sides, the company says, enables as much transistor current flowing as possible when “on,” as little as possible when “off,” and super-fast switching between the two. Intel says this “fin” shaped design will allow the chips to operate at lower power with less leakage.
The vertical nature of the design also allows the transistors to be packed closer together, and allows designers to build upwards. This crucial new design element enables engineers to increase the height of the “fins” in future generations of chips to further increase performance and efficiency.
The chip-making behemoth plans to implement the technology into all of their product lines, ranging from powerful servers to low-power processors for mobile devices. The new 22nm chips have been codenamed “Ivy Bridge,” and are expected to see a 37 percent increase in performance at low power. In addition to environmental benefits, notebook chips can expect to run at lower power consumption with the same clock speed, greatly benefitting battery life.
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