Processor manufacturers are in this never ending race to produce faster and less power consuming chips for various devices and platforms. Whether it’s RAM or CPUs, we all like things to go quicker and be easier on our pockets.
And don’t worry, this trend will continue going for now. Intel has introduced a new 3D transistor design which will be implemented in the upcoming family of Ivy Bridge processors. As a result of this new 3D design named “Tri-Gate”, Intel will be able to produce smaller and faster chips which are going to be widely implemented from servers and desktop computers to laptops, tablets and mobile phones.
You see, going forward in the semiconductor chip scene has been widely known as Moore’s Law. What this means is that basically every 18 to 24 months the transistors placed on an integrated circuit must inexpensively double. Up until now with the traditional transistors, which make up your ordinary chip, 22nm chips weren’t possible without a major transistor redesign. With the introduction of the new “Tri-Gate” design from Intel, though, as soon as the first quarter of 2012 we are going to witness the 22nm chips kick into action in the first batch of modern devices.
Conventional transistor design
The traditional transistor design consists of just one conducting channel placed on the top of a narrow silicon fin. The Tri-Gate technology allows for additional conducting channels to be formed on all three sides of that fin – one is the traditional top, and two on sides. This allows electrons not just to flow on the one, vertical side of the fin, but on all three.
The new Tri-Gate transistor design
The effects of this are easier to grasp than the technology itself. Performance and power usage are maximized thanks to the extra current that flows when the transistor is on and almost completely no current when it’s off. Also, switching between the the two states is faster, thus power usage is improved.
Compared to the old transistors in the 32nm chips, the new Tri-Gate transistors in the 22nm chips will provide up to 37% boost in performance. Besides the performance increase, the new chips will also consume 50 percent less power.
The new technology is going to give birth to a new line of Atom-based processors and ultimately smartphones and tablets. The result – thinner and lighter form factors without performance compromises.
The only bad thing about the new technology is that it will take some time to get to the market. In order to produce the new 22nm chips, Intel is going to make upgrades to its factories before starting the mass production in the beginning of 2012.
Intel has prepared a short video explaining the nuts and bolts of the new 3D Tri-Gate technology. It’s worth checking out.