Intel debuts '3D transistors' with 22nm chip recipe
How do ya like them, Apple?
Intel has unveiled its 22nm manufacturing process.
The process marks the debut of Intel's "Tri-Gate" transistors, first revealed as a research project over eight years ago, and the company has demonstrated its first microprocessor built with the new process, a chip codenamed "Ivy Bridge".
Equipped with a three-sided gate – the portion of a transistor used to control current – the Tri-Gate provides 50 per cent less power consumption than existing planar transistors as well as "unprecedented" performance gains, according to Intel. Chipzilla boasts that this is "the world's first 3D transistor".
"This transition to 3D devices will help us extend Moore's Law," Bill Holt, Intel senior vice president and general manager of Intel's technology and manufacturing groups, said Wednesday morning at a press conference in San Francisco.
Prior to the press conference, Intel said it would make its "most significant technology announcement of the year", and it was widely expected that this would involve the switch to 22nm. In recent days, rumors have indicated with the new process set to roll out, Intel is hoping to land a new breed of lower power processors on Apple's iPhone and iPad.
A transistor consists of three basic components: a source, a gate, and a drain. When a voltage is applied to the gate, electrons flow from the source to the drain, turning the transistor "on". When a different voltage applied, current between source and drain stopped, turning the transistor "off".
You can imagine the source and drain as two ends of a square pipe through which electrons flow. Existing transistors are "planar". The gate, which controls the flow of electrons, sits atop the pipe, touching it on only one surface. The Tri-Gate is nonplanar. The gate wraps around the pipe, touching not only the top plane of the pipe but the two sides as well. Unlike with planar transistors, electrons can flow across three planes, moving significantly more current through the transistor than would be the case with a planar transistor of the same size.
This allows the Tri-Gate to operate at a low voltage, with lower current leakage. Intel can maximize current when the transistor is on, and minimize current when it's off. The company says that the 22nm Tri-Gate provides up to a 37 per cent performance increase at a low voltage compared to its 32nm planar transistor, as Intel Fellow Mark Bohr explained at the press conference. The transistor also consumes less than half the power as a 32nm planar transistor at the same performance level, the company said.
The new transistor is "ideal" for use in small handheld devices. Naturally, Apple was not mentioned. But the company did say it intends to use the new process with its mobile-centric Atom chips. The cost of building the chips with the new transistors, Bohr said, is two to three per cent higher per wafer.
Today, Dadi Perlmutter, executive vice president and general manager of Intel's architecture group, demonstrated the new "Ivy Bridge" chip, part of the company's Core family of microprocessors. It will be used in PCs, notebooks, and servers, and Perlmutter indicated that chips will arrive in volume early next year. The company did not give a timeframe for Atom's switch to 22nm. ®
To set the record straight, the Register's explanation of an FET is entirely adequate with regard to illustrating the point of deeper coupling of the gate's field into the channel, and the additional channel "width" available by folding a planar device into a "U" shape.
The nit-pickers, as is so often the case, offer a truth that is in need of even more qualification, i.e. is less generally true, than the original.
Firstly, crazy guy, depletion mode transistors are not normally included in any CMOS process - the standard "inverter" component would be a rail-to-rail short-circuit at power-up. Valid point but irrelevant.
Secondly, Mr. Savard, the usage of the term "transistor" is not as rigorously defined as you suggest, certainly within the CMOS discipline - all of the processor/memory/sub-micron world - it refers to a FET; whether by definition or mere usage I care not.
Thirdly, TWB, getting all tricky with the details of what voltages are referred to which terminals doesn't add clarity. Never mind that you yourself fall into "when a voltage is applied to the gate" - without mentioning polarity (needs to be negative for a P-FET) - not to mention that the choice of source and drain is often quite arbitrary, defined by which terminal we choose to connect the substrate to - the "reverse diode arrangement".
Oh, and if that wasn't enough detail, remember that these devices work in the "deep sub-threshold" region, they're hardly switched on at all, so conventional electronics understanding is quite a way off the mark.
This sub-threshold operation is why the on/off ratio (of current) is so poor, hence why they need to be run with high leakage currents, to make the on-current they need to drive further devices (the fan-out). The Intel device is essentially a triple-breasted "fin-FET" from long ago, worthy because it has a much improved on/off ratio and hence lower leakage//static power consumption.
Whatever it cost them to develop, they can look at spending that again on lawyers and vexatious patent suits, if they choose to supply Apple.
Look HD is old news, 3D is the new buzzword. Now let me get back to my 3D coffee and 3D keyboard.
We 'ad these "tri-gate" things in the fifties. We called 'em "Pentode Valves".
For heaven's sake, this is a news article about Intel. Why the obligitary Apple product placement?
Yes, you can use processors in products made by Apple. The same applies to Dell, Asus, Nokia, and plenty of other companies that sell as much or more than Apple - do they not get a special mention everytime there's an article about processors?
ARM processors ship something like a billion processors a years on phones. Apple are number 5, companies like Nokia sell ten times as many. If and when those companies start switching to Intel, will be the more news.
And Intel already powers tablet/netbook sized devices, so that you could power an Ipad with an Intel processor isn't news.
And indeed I started electronics using them..
but getting much below 22mm proved rather difficult !