IT & Network Infrastructure : Intel's 3D Tri-Gate Transistor Breakthrough: A Look Inside
Intel is taking nano-scale chip design literally to another level. After more than five decades of putting flat (or planar) transistors to work in billions of chips in billions of digital devices ranging from big-iron mainframes to minuscule embedded sensors, Intel said May 4 that it now will build the tiny processing units in three dimensions, instead of two. They are called Tri-Gates, and Intel first disclosed the technology that goes into this chip design in 2002. Intel's 3D Tri-Gate transistors enable chips to operate at lower voltage with lower leakage, providing a combination of improved performance and energy efficiency never before seen in the chip industry, Intel Senior Fellow Mark Bohr said. The channels of electricity on three sides of the vertical fin structure make up the 3D nature of the transistor. The 22-nanometer 3D Tri-Gate transistors (a nanometer is one-billionth of a meter) provide up to 37 percent performance increase at low voltage compared with Intel's currently shipping 32nm planar transistors. This significant gain signifies that they are ideal for use in small handheld devices. These new transistors will reside on Intel's soon-to-come 22nm Ivy Bridge processors, due out late this year. Here are some details on how these Tri-Gates work.
Tri-Gate 3D Transistors: Low Power or High Performance
Intel Senior Fellow Mark Bohr, who's been working on the 3D transistors for a full decade, said the capabilities give chip designers the flexibility to choose transistors targeted for low power or high performance, depending on the application. "Of course, the Tri-Gates are very capable at both," Rohr said.