Thursday, May 05, 2011

Intel's 3D Transistors: Moore's Law Marches On

Image representing Intel as depicted in CrunchBaseImage via CrunchBaseThis is a big leap in a core sector of computing hardware. We will reap the benefits for years. This is great news for the mobile web, and for computing in general.

Intel Explains

Information Week: Why Do Intel's 3-D Transistors Matter?
the company would continue to meet or beat the promise of Moore's Law for years to come ..... speed, power consumption, and cost constraints. ...... Chips in the first PC CPUs were designed in the early 1970s, had about 3,500 transistors, and used a 10-micrometer manufacturing process. Now, chips have north of 3 billion transistors on a chip and use a process closing in on 10 nanometers, making today's transistors almost a million times smaller than those from the 1970s. To make that happen, almost everything about chip making has changed in those 40 years, but one thing that hasn't--until now--is the planar nature of the process....... leakage current, and even a little of it is very bad news. While leakage current is a tiny amount in one transistor, if you multiply it by a billion or so transistors, it adds up. In servers it results in heat and in handheld devices it results in reduced battery life. ....... Because the goal is to always pack more transistors on a chip, you can't make the channel wider, so as any New York City developer knows, the answer is to go vertical. ...... competitors are a good 24 months behind in bringing it to market. ...... Moore's law marches on.
ArsTechnica: Transistors go 3D as Intel re-invents the microchip
one of the most important pieces of semiconductor news in many years: the company's upcoming 22nm processors will feature a fundamental change to the design of the most basic building block of every computer chip, the transistor. ...... Intel has been exploring the new transistor for over a decade ...... the basic idea is that the transistor is a switch that works because a tiny bit of insulating material between two "electrodes" magically morphs into a conductor when a voltage is applied to it, thereby closing the circuit. ...... flipping the switch "on" and "off" is how the chip transmits the 1's and 0's of binary. ...... stretching the gate out into the third dimension. ...... the advantage of stretching the gate out into the third dimension are that you can much more easily either boost the chip's frequency or reduce its power, or some mix of the two ...... the 22nm tri-gate transistors switch between 18 and 37 percent faster than the 32nm planar ones (depending on the voltage level). Or, looked at from the voltage side, the new design can reduce active power by up to 50 percent...... very significant jumps in performance and efficiency, and they'll go a long way toward making Intel's "x86 in smartphones at 22nm" dreams come true. Once again, Intel has proven that its semiconductor manufacturing prowess is without peer in the industry.

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