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Intel to ship 3D processors by year end

World's first three dimensional design processors to ship in volume this year

Intel to ship 3D processors by year end
Illustration of the 22nm 3-D Tri-Gate transistor with current flowing on 3 sides of a vertical fin.

Intel will ship the world's first three dimensional processors in volume by the end of the year, the company has announced.

The processor, codenamed Ivy Bridge, is the first ever processor to use a three dimensional structure, as opposed to the two-dimensional planar transistor structure.

The Tri-Gate design will be used in Intel Core processors, in 22nm nodes, by end of 2011. The processor will provide up to 37% performance increase at low voltage versus Intel's 32nm planar transistors, with lower voltage leakage and better efficiency.

Intel says that the 3D structure will help in continuing to meet Moore's Law, which states that the number of transistors that can be placed on a circuit doubles roughly every two years.

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

The company has demonstrated the Ivy Bridge processor in laptop, server and desktop deployments, although its power performance will make it suited for small handhelds.

The 3-D Tri-Gate transistors use an extremely 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, and as close to zero as possible when it is in the "off" state, and enables the transistor to switch very quickly between the two states.

 "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."

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