Intel has introduced world’s first 3D transistor on Wednesday, which is going to be one of the greatest breakthrough for the largest microprocessor & chip manufacturer of the world. Intel says that it’s ready to produce the 3D transistors in large volume. Intel just announced that the 3D “Tri-Gate” transistor is the advancement of Moore’s Law. The Tri-Gate transistors will debut on Intel’s 22nm chips. The codename of the 22nm processor is “Ivy Bridge.”
The design of the 3D “Tri-Gate” transistor was demonstrated in 2002 but it is finally entering production with a 22nm processor. Intel says the transistors will use 50 percent less power at the same performance level, as the 32nm generation. It will also conduct more current and provide 37 percent more speed than their 2D counterparts.
Silicon wafers historically have been two dimensional. Instead of a “flat” two-dimensional planar gate, 3D Tri-Gate transistors employ a three-dimensional silicon fin that rises up from the silicon substrate. That lets Intel put a current-controlling gate on each side of the fin, instead of just one on the top like the 2D planar model is limited to.
Tri-Gate lets Intel control the flow of electricity in a much more efficient manner, the company says. That’s the fundamental improvement that should allow Intel to push the limits of Moore’s law, which dictates that the transistor density of processors will double every couple of years.
Tri-Gate transistors add 2 to 3 percent cost to the production of each wafer. To accommodate the new technology, Intel will be upgrading its factories throughout this year and into 2012.
These 3-D-based chips will first hit servers, desktops and laptops; Atom-based products will come later. Intel didn’t detail exact delivery targets, but later this year is likely. The company said it expects it will have a three-year lead on rivals.
Intel says we’ll see the new technology first in its 22nm Ivy Bridge CPUs, going into mass production in the second half of the year, and it’s planning 14nm chips in 2013 and 10nm chips in 2015. Also, 3D transistors won’t be limited to the cutting edge — Intel reps told journalists that they “will extend across the entire range of our product line,” including mobile devices.
Intel also says that a lower voltage will be tremendously helpful for graphics processing. Why? Because graphics processors (GPUs) are extremely dense. And because Intel has started to integrate GPUs in its processors with Sandy Bridge, it’s critically important for them to have a transistor foundation that lets them pursue integration.
Intel first detailed 3-D transistors in 2002, and now these chips will hit the market. The general idea is to pack more computing cycles with lower power. For Intel, which demonstrated a 22nm chip, 3-D chips will allow it to move into more markets such as cars, medical devices and other devices.
At a press conference in San Francisco, Dadi Perlmutter, executive vice president of Intel’s Architecture Group, said the company’s move will push higher performance onto smaller devices. Devices will require “ever-increasing performance” whether you’re talking servers in a data center or tablets.
Intel executives were asked about whether they can break into smartphones and tablets vs. ARM.
“I’m not going to go into big details. This will keep us extremely competitive in traditional space and help us to move ahead farther than the ARM ecosystem.”
3-D transistors have been touted by scientists for years, but the difference here is that Intel will use them in volume. Intel executives said that the company will begin revamping its plants in Arizona, Oregon and Israel to produce these 3-D chips.
Among the key points:
* 3-D Tri-Gate transistors will operate at lower voltage with less leakage. The upshot is that performance will improve.
* Chip designers will be able to pick fins and choose transistors for low power or performance.
* 22nm Tri-Gate transistors will use less than half the power at the same performance as 2-D 32nm chips.
* These 3-D transistors have a 10x lower depletion rate.
* Applied to a CPU, you can have a lower clock rate with the same performance as higher speeds.
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