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Intel takes the high-k road

Intel has made big plans to change the little parts that make up its microprocessor technology. Each processor is made up of millions of transistors and from 2007 Intel will use high-k dielectric materials to build the transistors.

Intel has made big plans to change the little parts that make up its microprocessor technology. Each processor is made up of millions of transistors and from 2007 Intel will use high-k dielectric materials to build the transistors. The move is planned to coincide with Intel's projected shift to a 45nm fabrication process in the same year.

Intel claims the significance of using high-k dielectric materials is that it will reduce the amount of current leaking out of each transistor by a factor of 100. This will significantly reduce each chip's power consumption.

Intel claims that this advance removes the industry's most challenging roadblock to ensuring Moore's Law continues into the next decade. Intel also claims that It could ultimately leading to vast, lower-cost computing power and enable applications that cannot be imagined today.

Today's processors use silicon dioxide as the dielectric. High-k material is metal but Intel isn't saying what substances constitute its high-k dielectric. Nor will it yet identify the new metals it plans to use for the gate electrode.

"This is the first convincing demonstration that new gate materials will enable transistors to perform better, while overcoming the fundamental limits of the silicon dioxide gate dielectric material that has served the industry for more than three decades," said Sunlin Chou, Intel senior VP and general manager of the Technology and Manufacturing Group.

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