Wednesday, May 4th 2011

Intel Reinvents Transistors Using New 3-D Structure

Intel Corporation today announced a significant breakthrough in the evolution of the transistor, the microscopic building block of modern electronics. For the first time since the invention of silicon transistors over 50 years ago, transistors using a three-dimensional structure will be put into high-volume manufacturing. Intel will introduce a revolutionary 3-D transistor design called Tri-Gate, first disclosed by Intel in 2002, into high-volume manufacturing at the 22-nanometer (nm) node in an Intel chip codenamed "Ivy Bridge." A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter.

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.

"Intel's scientists and engineers have once again reinvented the transistor, this time utilizing the third dimension," said Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini. "Amazing, world-shaping devices will be created from this capability as we advance Moore's Law into new realms."

Scientists have long recognized the benefits of a 3-D structure for sustaining the pace of Moore's Law as device dimensions become so small that physical laws become barriers to advancement. The key to today's breakthrough is Intel's ability to deploy its novel 3-D Tri-Gate transistor design into high-volume manufacturing, ushering in the next era of Moore's Law and opening the door to a new generation of innovations across a broad spectrum of devices.

Moore's Law is a forecast for the pace of silicon technology development that states that roughly every 2 years transistor density will double, while increasing functionality and performance and decreasing costs. It has become the basic business model for the semiconductor industry for more than 40 years.

Unprecedented Power Savings and Performance Gains
Intel's 3-D 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 22nm 3-D Tri-Gate transistors provide up to 37 percent performance increase at low voltage versus Intel's 32nm planar transistors. This incredible 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 32nm chips.

"The performance gains and power savings of Intel's unique 3-D Tri-Gate transistors are like nothing we've seen before," said Mark Bohr, Intel Senior Fellow. "This milestone is going further than simply keeping up with Moore's Law. The low-voltage and low-power benefits far exceed what we typically see from one process generation to the next. It will give product designers the flexibility to make current devices smarter and wholly new ones possible. We believe this breakthrough will extend Intel's lead even further over the rest of the semiconductor industry."

Continuing the Pace of Innovation – Moore's Law
Transistors continue to get smaller, cheaper and more energy efficient in accordance with Moore's Law – named for Intel co-founder Gordon Moore. Because of this, Intel has been able to innovate and integrate, adding more features and computing cores to each chip, increasing performance, and decreasing manufacturing cost per transistor.

Sustaining the progress of Moore's Law becomes even more complex with the 22nm generation. Anticipating this, Intel research scientists in 2002 invented what they called a Tri-Gate transistor, named for the three sides of the gate. Today's announcement follows further years of development in Intel's highly coordinated research-development-manufacturing pipeline, and marks the implementation of this work for high-volume manufacturing.

The 3-D 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).

Just as skyscrapers let urban planners optimize available space by building upward, Intel's 3-D Tri-Gate transistor structure provides a way to manage density. Since these fins are vertical in nature, transistors can be packed closer together, a critical component to the technological and economic benefits of Moore's Law. For future generations, designers also have the ability to continue growing the height of the fins to get even more performance and energy-efficiency gains.

"For years we have seen limits to how small transistors can get," said Moore. "This change in the basic structure is a truly revolutionary approach, and one that should allow Moore's Law, and the historic pace of innovation, to continue."

World's First Demonstration of 22nm 3-D Tri-Gate Transistors
The 3-D Tri-Gate transistor will be implemented in the company's upcoming manufacturing process, called the 22nm node, in reference to the size of individual transistor features. More than 6 million 22nm Tri-Gate transistors could fit in the period at the end of this sentence.

Today, Intel demonstrated the world's first 22nm 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 3-D 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 that scale the performance, functionality and software compatibility of Intel architecture while meeting the overall power, cost and size requirements for a range of market segment needs.
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106 Comments on Intel Reinvents Transistors Using New 3-D Structure

#1
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
by: pantherx12
"Intel's 22nm 3D transistors provide up to a 37 percent performance increase at low voltage versus Intel's 32nm planar transistors."

Wait wait wait, that's like 7% more than the usual right?

naughty intel, making it seem like it's better than it is.

Not to say it won;t give them an advantage. But no where near as much as people think I'd wager. The tech may develop some more. But for now it's only slightly better than a change in fab size.
The difference between 22 and 32 is 31.25%. 37% - 31.25%=5.75%

I don't think performance is necessarily the main benefit from Tri-Gate. I think it's reduced leakage which means greater efficiency (less having to recycle pipelines) and theoretically also be less friction which means higher clockspeeds for the same 140w TDP max. I think Intel has set themselves up for a 4+ GHz processor--about 10 years overdue.
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#2
HalfAHertz
by: FordGT90Concept
The difference between 22 and 32 is 31.25%. 37% - 31.25%=5.75%

I don't think performance is necessarily the main benefit from Tri-Gate. I think it's reduced leakage which means greater efficiency (less having to recycle pipelines) and theoretically also be less friction which means higher clockspeeds for the same 140w TDP max. I think Intel has set themselves up for a 4+ GHz processor--about 10 years overdue.
The difference between 32 and 22nm is much greater :o

32^2/22^2=1 024/484 =2,115 ~ 212% shrinkage so a 22nm transistor should be less than half the size of a 32nm transistor
Posted on Reply
#3
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
Assuming it is perfectly square and reduced to the same square dimensions, the difference is 52.734375%.

The 7% figure most likely has nothing to do with 32nm -> 22nm though. They probably compared tri-gate to planar on the same manufacture process (most likely 22nm but it could have been on any). "Performance" is vague though. In any event, it allows them to scale down even smaller because the height of an electron is no longer a limiting factor (well, at least not as much so). This discovery allows for 10nm and beyond to be feasible.
Posted on Reply
#4
TheMailMan78
Big Member
by: FordGT90Concept
Assuming it is perfectly square and reduced to the same square dimensions, the difference is 52.734375%.

The 7% figure most likely has nothing to do with 32nm -> 22nm though. They probably compared tri-gate to planar on the same manufacture process (most likely 22nm but it could have been on any). "Performance" is vague though. In any event, it allows them to scale down even smaller because the height of an electron is no longer a limiting factor (well, at least not as much so). This discovery allows for 10nm and beyond to be feasible.
Numbers........mind.......burning!
Posted on Reply
#5
pantherx12
by: FordGT90Concept
Assuming it is perfectly square and reduced to the same square dimensions, the difference is 52.734375%.

The 7% figure most likely has nothing to do with 32nm -> 22nm though. They probably compared tri-gate to planar on the same manufacture process (most likely 22nm but it could have been on any). "Performance" is vague though. In any event, it allows them to scale down even smaller because the height of an electron is no longer a limiting factor (well, at least not as much so). This discovery allows for 10nm and beyond to be feasible.
Certainly in this press release it's comparing 32 to 22 nm.

But I'm hopeful 3d transistors become the norm regardless as it can only get better.
Posted on Reply
#6
yogurt_21
by: Easy Rhino
AMD is no match for the R&D department at Intel. AMD unfortunately will always be two steps behind.
not necessarily, they still brough out the Athlon 64 back when intel was completely dominating and it was leagues ahead of what intel was doing with the P4.
Posted on Reply
#7
Easy Rhino
Linux Advocate
by: yogurt_21
not necessarily, they still brough out the Athlon 64 back when intel was completely dominating and it was leagues ahead of what intel was doing with the P4.
yea and that was pre-ATI purchase.
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#8
AsRock
TPU addict
by: trickson
I think Intel should call them Killdozer LOL .
hehe, well i hope this not hurt AMD as much as it sounds like it could do.

Like hell i just got a dual unlockable CPU a AMD 890 mobo and DDR3 ram for $250 which i cannot say i could of done with INTEL.

However, seeing how this new tech works is there not a issue with how much thicker the chip would have to be cooling wise ?. Never mind cost so to me sounds like AMD are safe as there cheaper than INTEL now never mind when INTEL take advantage of this tech on a larger scale.

And would the tech be more prone to more issue's when making new stuff ?.
Posted on Reply
#9
CAT-THE-FIFTH
It looks like ARM is not too worried:

http://mobile-device.biz/content/item.php?item=30305

From the article:
"Drew also pointed out that ARM has already announced test chips at 22 and 20nm already, with foundry partners TSMC and GlobalFoundries also working on those processes, and that IBM is already working on 14nm."
Posted on Reply
#10
HalfAHertz
by: CAT-THE-FIFTH
It looks like ARM is not too worried:

http://mobile-device.biz/content/item.php?item=30305

From the article:
"Drew also pointed out that ARM has already announced test chips at 22 and 20nm already, with foundry partners TSMC and GlobalFoundries also working on those processes, and that IBM is already working on 14nm."
Well look at it this way - the majority of arm cores were up to recently built at 65nm and were still kicking atom's arse(and anything else that was x86) in performance/power. The problem is that ARM isn't as scalable as x86 and is mostly 32 bit so that's why it's limited to small electronics devices. Half the SoC consists of fixed function hardware, so every one to two years, you need a new SoC with updated hardware just to be able to watch the latest movie format or browse the net. Once you scale things past small electronics devices, ARM quickly looses steam.
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#12
CDdude55
Crazy 4 TPU!!!
by: streetfighter 2
So would this herald a huge change to Cadence and Synopsys design/synthesis suites, or maybe just a significant modification of DRC?
I always like your posts cause they always link to informative info.:)
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#13
D007
FFS! I just upgraded to an i7 build and now they mention this?! arrrgggg!!!!
Posted on Reply
#14
TheMailMan78
Big Member
I wish IBM would get back into the desktop arena.
Posted on Reply
#15
mastrdrver
FinFET

by: streetfighter 2
So would this herald a huge change to Cadence and Synopsys design/synthesis suites, or maybe just a significant modification of DRC?
I thought it was closer to a FinFET with multiple gates then anything else?
Posted on Reply
#16
Mussels
Moderprator
by: sy5tem
well intel invented something all over again . so when AMD did that? i can't remember :P

finally something really exciting and new :) can't wait to see what will come up from this,

also i wonder can they just build like more bridge on same transistor? like 2 bridge that have control over 3 flow of current each? hehe that would be 9x 1 transistor!
AMD hit 1GHz first, had 64 bit CPU's out first, had IMC's first, and probably a few other things i forgot already.
Posted on Reply
#17
CDdude55
Crazy 4 TPU!!!
by: Mussels
AMD hit 1GHz first, had 64 bit CPU's out first, had IMC's first, and probably a few other things i forgot already.
And Intel created x86 (which is where AMD laid their 64-bit chip out of) and Intel created the first commercial microprocessor chip.

They both have contributed, though i do think Intel tends lays out the significant advancements first and AMD tends to follow after.
Posted on Reply
#18
Mussels
Moderprator
by: CDdude55
And Intel created x86 (which is where AMD laid their 64-bit chip out of) and Intel created the first commercial microprocessor chip.

They both have contributed, though i do think Intel tends lays out the significant advancements first and AMD tends to follow after.
intel surely have the lead, but at times AMD has taken the performance and feature crowns. the point was merely to reinforce the fact that while AMD is the underdog most of the time, its not always true.


will this tech help intel take the lead? damn sure it will. but what if these CPU's cost twice what they do now? the wealthy among us will sing intels praises, and everyone else wont be able to afford the new ivy bridge 22nm 3D transistor chips extreme/K editions that let them OC...
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#19
theJesus
by: Mussels
intel surely have the lead, but at times AMD has taken the performance and feature crowns. the point was merely to reinforce the fact that while AMD is the underdog most of the time, its not always true.


will this tech help intel take the lead? damn sure it will. but what if these CPU's cost twice what they do now? the wealthy among us will sing intels praises, and everyone else wont be able to afford the new ivy bridge 22nm 3D transistor chips extreme/K editions that let them OC...
And then AMD will catch up with Intel's tech and improve upon it and Intel will have to come up with something new again and the cycle will repeat.
Posted on Reply
#20
bear jesus
All this talk about who did what first makes me think about one thing, would many of these advances have come so early if Intel and AMD were not competing?

Yea i know its not much of a competition right now but in the past i think certain generations were all about trying to beat the other company thus giving us AMD cpu's that were the fastest at the time and Intel CPU's that were the fastest at the time.


*edit*
by: theJesus
And then AMD will catch up with Intel's tech and improve upon it and Intel will have to come up with something new again and the cycle will repeat.
Pretty much beat me to it :laugh: its always one side or the other pushing things forward then the other tries to one up them, it's a beautiful cycle for us as it means more and more power :D
Posted on Reply
#21
theJesus
by: bear jesus
All this talk about who did what first makes me think about one thing, would many of these advances have come so early if Intel and AMD were not competing?

Yea i know its not much of a competition right now but in the past i think certain generations were all about trying to beat the other company thus giving us AMD cpu's that were the fastest at the time and Intel CPU's that were the fastest at the time.
Well, yeah. If a company has nobody to compete with, then they don't need to spend all that money on R&D.
Posted on Reply
#22
Mussels
Moderprator
thats exactly it. intel has new tech that dominates, so AMD goes for another route. better power efficiency, more cores, lower prices, etc.


intel then finds a way to make their tech more appealing, likely via the lower prices dealio.


everyone wins.
Posted on Reply
#23
bear jesus
by: theJesus
Well, yeah. If a company has nobody to compete with, then they don't need to spend all that money on R&D.
And then we would lose out big time.

All of us will only be around for so long and competition in the tech industry helps us get to see and use more and more advanced tech while we still can.
Posted on Reply
#24
Jonap_1st
by: bear jesus
And then we would lose out big time.

All of us will only be around for so long and competition in the tech industry helps us get to see and use more and more advanced tech while we still can.
competition brings new technology and... some price cuts
Posted on Reply
#25
HalfAHertz
If anyone doubts that intel will raise the prices once there is no competition, just look at the server market. The new SB 8/10-core chips cost an arm and a leg
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