Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Intel's FINFET Transistors Increase Speed by Building Upward

Via -

Intel plans to announce Wednesday that by building a key portion of a microprocessor’s transistor above the chip’s surface, it has found a way to make smaller, faster and lower-power computer chips.

Intel intends to break with the basic design of the so-called planar transistor that has remained a constant in the chip industry since 1959 when Robert Noyce, Intel’s co-founder, and Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments independently invented the first integrated circuits.

Since the advent of the microchip, the transistor, which is the electronic switch that is the basic building block of the information age, has been manufactured in just two dimensions.

But now, when the space between the billions of the tiny electronic switches on the flat surface of a computer chip is measured in the width of just dozens of atoms, designers are increasingly turning to the third dimension to find more room.

The company has already begun making its microprocessors using this new 3-D transistor design called a FINFET (for fin field-effect transistor), which is based around a remarkably small pillar, or fin, of silicon that rises above the surface of the chip. Intel, based in Santa Clara, Calif., plans to enter general production based on the new technology some time later this year.

Although the company will not give technical details about its new process in its Wednesday announcement, it said that it expected to be able to make chips that run as much as 37 percent faster in low-voltage applications and it would be able to cut power consumption as much as 50 percent.

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