IBM Unveils Tiny Transistor

IBM says it has created the world's smallest working silicon transistor.

IBM says it has created the worlds smallest working silicon transistor.

IBMs Research Group on Monday unveiled the new transistor—which at 6 nanometers in length is at least 10 times smaller than transistors in production today, according to the company—at the International Electron Devices Meeting in San Francisco.

The silicon body of the transistor is 4-8nm thick, but retains the needed capabilities for turning the transistor on and off, IBM said.

The promise of the tiny transistor is that chip makers will be able to put more of them on processors, thereby increasing performance of the processor.

In its 2001 International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors, the Consortium of International Semiconductor Companies said that in order for chip performance to continue improving, transistors will have to be smaller than 9 nanometers by 2016, according to IBM.

But while the companys Research Group, in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., has created the transistor, more work on such issues as heat and power consumption will be needed.