Feeds

Big Blue demos 100GHz chip

One atom thin

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Updated IBM reseachers have made a breakthrough in the development of ultra-high-speed transistor design, creating a 100GHz graphene-based wafer-scale device. And that's just for starters.

The transistor that the researchers have developed is a relatively large one, with a gate length of 240 nanometers - speeds should increase as the gate length shrinks.

The field-effect transistor that the IBM team developed exploits what a paper published in the journal Science understates as the "very high carrier mobilities" of graphene, a one-atom-thick sheet of carbon atoms grown on a silicon substrate.

This extraordinarily thin sheet is grown on the silicon epitaxially, meaning that it's created in an ordered crystaline structure on top of another crystaline structure - in this case, good ol' garden-variety silicon. The graphene sheet has a hexagonal, honeycombed structure.

IBM graphene transistor conceptual art

A long gate length means plenty of room for speed improvements

Graphene has been known for some time to have exceptional electron mobility, but it has remained stubbornly resistant to the creation of band gaps - the electron-free zones necessary for transistors to funtion as on/off switches. Among the IBM research team's breakthroughs was the creation of these band gaps in a graphene-based transistor.

In an IBM Research statement, Dr. T.C. Chen, vice president for science and technology, said: "A key advantage of graphene lies in the very high speeds in which electrons propagate, which is essential for achieving high-speed, high-performance next generation transistors. The breakthrough we are announcing demonstrates clearly that graphene can be utilized to produce high performance devices and integrated circuits."

Key to the breakthrough is what the paper calls a "interfacial polymer layer" that separates the graphene sheet from its metal gate dialectric. And although the gate length is a hefty 240nm, IBM notes that there is "plenty of space for further optimization of its performance by scaling down the gate length."

But even at this gate length and at this early stage of their development, IBM's graphene transistors can already achieve speeds of 250 per cent of those achievable by "state-of-the-art" silicon metal-oxide semiconductor FETs of the same gate length, which the IBM paper says top out at around 40GHz.

Also notable is the fact that the graphene transistor's 100GHz performance was at room temperature. When chilled, even higher performance is to be expected. ®

Update

This article did not note that the cut-off frequency, or switching speed, of an individual transistor is faster than the clock rate of a microprocessor composed of such transistors, which is typically an order of magnitude or more lower. The Reg regrets the lack of clarity.

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
Samsung Gear S: Quick, LAUNCH IT – before Apple straps on iWatch
Full specs for wrist-mounted device here ... but who'll buy it?
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Now that's FIRE WIRE: HP recalls 6 MILLION burn-risk laptop cables
Right in the middle of Burning Mains Man week
HUGE iPAD? Maybe. HUGE ADVERTS? That's for SURE
Noo! Hand not big enough! Don't look at meee!
AMD unveils 'single purpose' graphics card for PC gamers and NO ONE else
Chip maker claims the Radeon R9 285 is 'best in its class'
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?