Intel builds fast silicon transistors

JUNE 12--Intel Corp. (Santa Clara, CA; www.intel.com) researchers claim to have built the fastest silicon transistors, measuring 20 nm.

JUNE 12--Intel Corp. (Santa Clara, CA; www.intel.com) researchers claim to have built the fastest silicon transistors, measuring 20 nm. According to the company, this will allow it to build microprocessors containing 1 billion transistors and running at speeds approaching 20 GHz. "Our transistor research shows that we are able to extend Moore's Law scaling for at least another three generations beyond our current technologies," said Gerald Marcyk, director of the components research lab in Intel's technology and manufacturing group.

Some researchers believe that nanotechnology will replace silicon in the future. Intel claims its research illustrates that silicon and nanotechnology are, in fact, complementary. "We still have not found a fundamental limit for making silicon transistors smaller," said Robert Chau, fellow and director of transistor research, Intel logic technology development. "The pace of silicon development is accelerating, not decelerating."

According to Intel, the 20-nm transistors are 30% smaller and 25% faster than the current fastest transistors. The company plans to use these transistors as the basis of its 45-nm process generation, which it plans to have in production by about 2007.

The gate oxides used to build these new transistors are three atomic layers thick. Intel said the experimental transistors were built using the same physical structure and materials used in today's computer chips, and it plans to use a different class of gate oxide material by the time these transistors go into production.

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