MUNICH, Germany Intel will introduce trigate transistors beginning with the 32-nm technology node scheduled for 2009. With this new three-dimensional transistor structures, Intel hopes to achieve significant power savings as well as performance improvements.
One day before the opening of the VLSI Technology Symposium in Hawaii, Intel disclosed details of the transistor the company was doing research on for several years (see report from June 9). According to Mike Mayberry, Director of Intel's Components Research, the company has succeeded in integrating high-k dielectrics, metal gate electrodes and strained silicon in the new transistor.
The result is a transistor that consumes significantly less power than today's planar transistors. According to Mayberry, trigate transistors allow for a better off-current than today's transistors and thus integrated circuits will waste less power by leakage. High-k metal gates also reduce power dissipation while at the same time allow for higher speed. The same applies for the third ingredient in Intel's formula, strained silicon.
According to Mayberry, the new transistor will offer either a 45 percent increase in speed or a 50 percent reduction in off-current, compared to a state-of-the art 65-nm transistor. Or, as Mayberry puts it, with the new transistor, a processor could consume 35 percent less total power at constant speed.
Now, Intel is planning to use this transistor architecture as basic building block for future microprocessors beyond the 45-nm node, which would mean that the upcoming 65-nm and 45-nm nodes will be implemented in conventional way. Intel expects volume production for 32-nm devices sometime in 2009 and for 22-nm devices in 2011, Mayberry said Monday (June 12) in a phone conference.
"These transistors are a critical part of our energy efficient performance philosophy", explained Mayberry the local value of the technology. Even though the three-dimensional structures of the transistor are more complex than conventional ones and hence more difficult to manufacture, Mayberry does not expect an impact on price. "The key problems in terms of production are the etch processes, not the equipment", he explained, suggesting that the company does not need to invest in equipment for trigate transistors beyond the investments planned anyway for the respective technology nodes.