IBM unveils world’s fastest silicon transistor

The world's fastest silicon-based transistor, reported to perform nearly 300 percent faster than today's production devices, has been unveiled by IBM.

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By  Vijaya George Published  November 5, 2002

The world's fastest silicon-based transistor, reported to perform nearly 300 percent faster than today's production devices, and 65 percent faster than previous silicon transistors, has been unveiled by IBM. The transistor, a key component in microchips, uses a modified design and IBM's silicon germanium (SiGe) bipolar technology to achieve speeds of 350 GigaHertz (GHz).

In two years, the IT giant predicts that the new transistor will lead to communications chips with speeds of more than 150 GHz. The transistor is also expected to result in substantially lower power consumption and lower cost for communications systems and other electronic products.

"The industry recognises the importance of SiGe technology, and everyone is racing to add it to their arsenal," stated Bernard Meyerson, IBM fellow and chief technologist, IBM Technology Group. "SiGe is imperative for true system-on-chip designs that pull together standard logic circuitry and higher-speed wireless communications circuitry. And while others are introducing their first versions, this is IBM's fifth generation of SiGe technology."

Data published by research firm IC Insights in its "2002 McClean Report," estimates that SiGe sales totaled $320 million in 2001 and are projected to grow to about $2.7 billion by 2006. Of this, the report estimates that IBM SiGe activity accounted for more than 80 percent of total 2001 SiGe business. Moreover, the fact that IBM’s SiGe chips are built on existing manufacturing lines will allow the technology to be introduced rapidly and at minimal cost. This will, in turn, help to extend function and battery life in cellular phones and other RF (radio frequency, or wireless) communications products.

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