Intel Goes 3D With New Transistor Tech.

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New York - Intel today unveiled its new 22nm 3D Tri-Gate transistor it said will greatly increase speed and lower power usage on all upcoming Intel processors and eventually help Intel have a stronger presence in the mobile market.

The new processors, code named Ivy Bridge, will be in full production by the end of this year and in products by 2012. Despite the name, the technology does not have anything to do directly with improving 3D video or gaming performance.

The first devices to receive the new technology will be thin clients and servers, followed at an unspecified date by consumer products. These will include PCs, laptops, smartphones and tablet PCs.

The 3D architecture will be used across Intel's entire processor portfolio including in Atom processors. Intel will not use the current Planar technology on the 22nm level, company executives said.

The technology has been under development for 10 years, said Mark Bohr, a Senior Fellow at Intel. The new technology will allow chips to continue to follow Moore's Law, which states the number of transistors on a chip will double every two years. Bohr said this  was becoming difficult using the older 32nm Planar transistor technology.

The new technology gets its name from the addition of a small fin that sits on top of the transistor that creates an additional electronic gate on the transistor. This forces the electric current to leave the transistor's surface and go up and over and then back onto the surface. By doing so the transistors are 37 percent faster on low voltage systems and use 50 percent less power.

In addition, the architecture change will allow Intel to double the number of transistors that will fit on a single processor, compared to its current 32nm technology, said Bohr. 3D will also be scaleable to Intel's upcoming 14nm architecture, but no further information was revealed.

Dadi Perlmutter, Intel's executive VP, said 3D transistors will help keep Intel competitive in its traditional processor markets, and allow it to better compete in the smartphone and tablet space where it has only a small presence.

Perlmutter said, he expects Atom processor with 3D transistors to compete strongly with ARM's mobile processor offerings, but he did not have any benchmark data to compare the two.


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