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New 3D chip transistor may reach 50GHz

Japan and Singapore firms make R&D pact

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Japanese R&D firm Unisantis says it will create and sell a new kind of "3-D" transistor that provides 10 times the computing speed of current chips.

It is entering a 24-month collaborative agreement with Singapore's Institute of Microelectronics for simultaneous design work.

The companies claim processor clockspeeds could reach between 20GHz and 50GHz by using a 3-D structure that arranges components vertically, as opposed to the horizontal design of our forefathers. The device is dubbed the Surrounding Gate Transistor.

And just as the alarming appearance of a sphere confounds — and yes — frightens a resident of Flatland, so shall the eldrich machinations of this 3-D transistor do unto this Register hack.

But rest assured brighter minds are on the case.

The design work is headed by CTO of Unisantis Fujio Masuoka - a man credited with the invention of flash memory. He'll be joined by some 30 academics, engineers and scientists on the project.

According to Masuoko, SGT is a vertical silicon pillar surrounded by memory cells, electrical contacts and various other unnamed components (our guess: the screeching souls of the damned).

The 3-D structure apparently reduces the distance that electrons travel, generates less heat and costs less to produce than existing chips.

"The SGT also allows further improvements in silicon-based semiconductors, in terms of transistor size and processing speed, for at least 30 more years before the theoretical limits are reached. Such improvements are necessary for new-generation IC chips to meet the computing power demanded by IT products and computing networks of ever-increasing functionality and complexity," said Masuoka. ®

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