Intel To Launch Mass Production of 22-nm 3D Tri-Gate Transistors
Intel Corporation today announced a significant breakthrough in the evolution of the transistor. Intel will introduce a 3D transistor design called Tri-Gate, first disclosed by Intel in 2002, into high-volume manufacturing at the 22-nanometer node in an Intel chip codenamed Ivy Bridge.
The three-dimensional Tri-Gate transistors represent a fundamental departure from the two-dimensional planar transistor structure that has powered not only all computers, mobile phones and consumer electronics to-date, but also the electronic controls within cars, spacecraft, household appliances, medical devices and virtually thousands of other everyday devices for decades.
The 22nm 3D tri-gate transistor
Intel's 3D Tri-Gate transistors enable chips to operate at lower voltage with lower leakage, providing an unprecedented combination of improved performance and energy efficiency compared to previous state-of-the-art transistors. The capabilities give chip designers the flexibility to choose transistors targeted for low power or high performance, depending on the application.
The 22-nm 3D Tri-Gate transistors provide up to 37 percent performance increase at low voltage versus Intel's 32-nm planar transistors. This gain means that they are ideal for use in small handheld devices, which operate using less energy to "switch" back and forth. Alternatively, the new transistors consume less than half the power when at the same performance as 2-D planar transistors on 32-nm chips.
According to Intel, the 3D Tri-Gate transistors are a reinvention of the transistor. The traditional "flat" two-dimensional planar gate is replaced with an incredibly thin three-dimensional silicon fin that rises up vertically from the silicon substrate. Control of current is accomplished by implementing a gate on each of the three sides of the fin — two on each side and one across the top — rather than just one on top, as is the case with the 2-D planar transistor. The additional control enables as much transistor current flowing as possible when the transistor is in the "on" state (for performance), and as close to zero as possible when it is in the "off" state (to minimize power), and enables the transistor to switch very quickly between the two states (again, for performance).
A 32-nm transistor on the left compared to a 22-nm 3D Tri-Gate transistor on the right
Today, Intel demonstrated the world's first 22-nm microprocessor, codenamed Ivy Bridge, working in a laptop, server and desktop computer. Ivy Bridge-based Intel Core family processors will be the first high-volume chips to use 3D Tri-Gate transistors. Ivy Bridge is slated for high-volume production readiness by the end of this year.
This silicon technology breakthrough will also aid in the delivery of more highly integrated Intel Atom processor-based products.
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