Intel’s 3D Tri-Gate Transistor Breakthrough


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Intel is taking nano-scale chip design literally to another level. After more than five decades of putting flat (or planar) transistors to work in billions of chips in billions of digital devices ranging from big-iron mainframes to minuscule embedded sensors, Intel said May 4 that it now will build the tiny processing units in three dimensions, instead of two. They are called Tri-Gates, and Intel first disclosed the technology that goes into this chip design in 2002. Intel’s 3D Tri-Gate transistors enable chips to operate at lower voltage with lower leakage, providing a combination of improved performance and energy efficiency never before seen in the chip industry, Intel Senior Fellow Mark Bohr said. The channels of electricity on three sides of the vertical fin structure make up the 3D nature of the transistor. The 22-nanometer 3D Tri-Gate transistors (a nanometer is one-billionth of a meter) provide up to 37 percent performance increase at low voltage compared with Intel’s currently shipping 32nm planar transistors. This significant gain signifies that they are ideal for use in small handheld devices. These new transistors will reside on Intel’s soon-to-come 22nm Ivy Bridge processors, due out late this year. Here are some details on how these Tri-Gates work.

 

  • Tri-Gate 3D Transistors: Low Power or High Performance

    Tri-Gate 3D Transistors: Low Power or High Performance, IT & Network Infrastructure

  • Intel Senior Fellow Mark Bohr, who’s been working on the 3D transistors for a full decade, said the capabilities give chip designers the flexibility to choose transistors targeted for low power or high performance, depending on the application. "Of course, the Tri-Gates are very capable at both," Rohr said.
  • Working on Vanishingly Small Nanometer Scales

    Working on Vanishingly Small Nanometer Scales, IT & Network Infrastructure

  • This image shows the relative size of a typical chip (left) compared with a human hair (right), which is about 100,000 nanometers in diameter. Remember that a nanometer is one-billionth of a meter. The Tri-Gate transistor is a mere 22 nanometers in size. A tiny representation of Bohr separates the two items.
  • Intel’s Standard 32nm Processors

    Intel's Standard 32nm Processors, IT & Network Infrastructure

  • The currently standard 32nm transistors Intel is now supplying to the world marketplace are designed to maximize the flow of electricity through a metal gateway (top, in silver color) while being able to turn the flow on and off more than 100 million times per second.
  • The Inner Workings of a 32nm Transistor

    The Inner Workings of a 32nm Transistor , IT & Network Infrastructure

  • This image represents a 32nm transistor with the gateway closed (represented by the red color). See the previous slide to see the depiction of an open gateway. In normal use, a transistor gateway can open and close more than 100 million times per second.
  • A Few Nanometers Make a Difference

    A Few Nanometers Make a Difference, IT & Network Infrastructure

  • One might not think that a mere 10nm- the difference between 32nm- and 22nm-size transistors- make that much of a difference when sitting aboard the processor, but as you can see from this image, there are a lot more of the smaller transistors that can be placed in the honeycomb-like fixture on the chip.
  • The 32nm Processor: On Its Way Out?

    The 32nm Processor: On Its Way Out?, IT & Network Infrastructure

  • Face to face: The currently standard 32nm processor (left) is about to be replaced forever by the 22nm Tri-Gate (right).
  • Intel Senior Fellow Mark Bohr with Tri-Gate

    Intel Senior Fellow Mark Bohr with Tri-Gate, IT & Network Infrastructure

  • Mark Bohr is depicted with an example of a Tri-Gate transistor.
  • Tri-Gate Transistors Cut Power Usage by Half

    Tri-Gate Transistors Cut Power Usage by Half, IT & Network Infrastructure

  • Intel claims that the Tri-Gate transistor uses only half as much power as the current 32nm product, and that this factor alone will be a major selling point when the new Ivy Bridge chips come out later this year.
  • The Incredibly Shrinking Intel Processors

    The Incredibly Shrinking Intel Processors, IT & Network Infrastructure

  • At the May 4 press event, Intel reviewed the eight-year-long road map for its new-generation processors, starting with its 90nm version (2003) and moving to 65nm (2005), 45nm (2007), 32nm (2009) and finally to the dawn of the 22nm Tri-Gate architecture (2011).
  • Tri-Gate in Cross Section

    Tri-Gate in Cross Section, IT & Network Infrastructure

  • A cross-section look at the Tri-Gate shows the base of the silicon substrate, an oxide layer above that, and the gate, drain and power flow on top of the transistor. The channels of electricity on three sides of the vertical fin structure make up the 3D nature of the transistor.

 

 

Intel’s 3D Tri-Gate Transistor Breakthrough: A Look Inside – IT Infrastructure – News & Reviews – eWeek.com – eWeek Mobile.

 

Electronic component - various bipolar transistors

Image via Wikipedia

 

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