Intel unveils ‘3D’ transistor technology

Intel has today announced its next generation of microprocessors, which it says increases the density of transistors by stacking them up vertically.  

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Intel has today announced its next generation of microprocessors, which it says increases the density of transistors by stacking them up vertically.  

The chipmaker says the Tri-Gate technology will “enable chips to operate at lower voltage with lower leakage”, an important consideration for mobile devices. 

Mark Bohr, a senior fellow at Intel said the new technology would “give product designers the flexibility to make current devices smarter and wholly new ones possible”.

Intel claimes the breakthrough will also “aid in the delivery of more highly integrated Intel Atom processor-based products” – the same processors that are currently used in all Apple mobile devices. 

The company will first use the Tri-Gate technology in its next generation 22nm processor, which is code named ‘Ivy Bridge’ and slated for full-scale production by the end of 2011. 

Transistors are the tiny switches inside chips that are manipulated to conduct logical operations. Current transistors consist of single gates which control the flow of electrons through just one surface of silicon. Intel’s new Tri-Gate transistors will control the flow through three surfaces, boosting transistor surface area and allowing for faster switching and better current control.

The microprocessor industry is always trying to keep up with Moore’s Law, the prediction by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore that the number of transistors a chip can contain will double every two years. The fear is that if the rate of increase in transistor density slows down, so too will the pace of IT-related innovation.

Intel’s statement quotes Moore himself, who is now the company’s ‘chairman emeritus’, as saying: "This change in the basic structure is a truly revolutionary approach, and one that should allow Moore’s Law, and the historic pace of innovation, to continue.”

Watch Intel’s video explaining Tri-Gate transistor technology

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