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Intel transistor uses 3D structure

Posted: 09 May 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:3D transistor? 22nm node? Ivy Bridge?

Sustaining the progress of Moore's Law becomes more complex with the 22nm generation. Anticipating this, Intel research scientists in 2002 invented what they called a Tri-Gate transistor, named for the three sides of the gate. Today's announcement follows further years of development in Intel's highly coordinated research-development-manufacturing pipeline, and marks the implementation of this work for high-volume manufacturing.

The 3D Tri-Gate transistors are a reinvention of the transistor. The traditional 'flat' two-dimensional planar gate is replaced with an incredibly thin three-dimensional silicon fin that rises up vertically from the silicon substrate. Control of current is accomplished by implementing a gate on each of the three sides of the fintwo on each side and one across the toprather than just one on top, as is the case with the 2D planar transistor. The additional control enables as much transistor current flowing as possible when the transistor is in the 'on' state (for performance), and as close to zero as possible when it is in the 'off' state (to minimize power), and enables the transistor to switch very quickly between the two states.

Just as skyscrapers let urban planners optimize available space by building upward, Intel's 3D Tri-Gate transistor structure provides a way to manage density. Since these fins are vertical in nature, transistors can be packed closer together, a critical component to the technological and economic benefits of Moore's Law. For future generations, designers also have the ability to continue growing the height of the fins to get even more performance and energy-efficiency gains.

The 3D Tri-Gate transistor will be implemented in the company's upcoming manufacturing process, called the 22nm node, in reference to the size of individual transistor features. More than six million 22nm Tri-Gate transistors could fit in the period at the end of this sentence.

Intel demonstrated the world's first 22nm microprocessor, the 'Ivy Bridge,' working in a laptop, server and desktop computer. Ivy Bridge-based Intel Core family processors will be the first high-volume chips to use 3D Tri-Gate transistors. Ivy Bridge is slated for high-volume production readiness by the end of this year.

This silicon technology breakthrough will also aid in the delivery of more highly integrated Intel Atom processor-based products that scale the performance, functionality and software compatibility of Intel architecture while meeting the overall power, cost and size requirements for a range of market segment needs.


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