At a press event today, Intel announced that its next generation of chips will employ a never-before-used 3D structure. The new technology that makes this breakthrough possible, known as Tri-Gate, has been in the making for a long time: Intel was talking about 3D chips as far back as 2002, and published a lengthy overview of Tri-Gate in 2006. Now, it’s here, and it’ll first hit the mass market when Intel begins manufacturing its 22 nm Ivy Bridge CPUs in the second half of 2011.
Tri-Gate chips can rightly be called “3D” thanks to an “incredibly thin three-dimensional silicon fin that rises up vertically from the silicon substrate,” allowing for a more finessed control of current, accomplished by “implementing a gate on each of the three sides of the fin – two on each side and one across the top — rather than just one on top, as is the case with the 2-D planar transistor.” Not only does this allow Intel to manage the increasingly tricky feat of keeping up with Moore’s Law, but according to the chipmaker, it will lead to a performance increase of 37 percent and a reduction in power costs of over 50 percent; the cost of manufacture, however, will only go up two or three percent.
The three-dimensional Tri-Gate transistors represent a fundamental departure from the two-dimensional planar transistor structure that has powered not only all computers, mobile phones and consumer electronics to-date, but also the electronic controls within cars, spacecraft, household appliances, medical devices and virtually thousands of other everyday devices for decades.
Explanation video below:
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