Intel has demonstrated its radical new “Ivy Bridge” three-dimensional processor, dubbed Tri-Gate, which it is billing as one of the major breakthroughs of its 43-year history.The chip, which uses 22-nanometre technology, was demonstrated by senior fellow Mark Bohr at a media conference in San Francisco around 2.30am, Sydney time, running on a server, a desktop and a notebook PC – but Intel believes it will also see the company move in a major way into the handheld processor area now dominated by designs from ARM of the UK.
Said Bohr: “The performance gains and power savings of Intel’s unique 3-D Tri-Gate transistors are like nothing we’ve seen before. This milestone is going further than simply keeping up with Moore’s Law [which suggests the number of transistors that fit on a chip roughly doubles every two years].
“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.”
The three-dimensional Tri-Gate transistors represent a fundamental departure from the traditional flat structure. The transistors are built on a 3D silicon fin that rises vertically from the silicon substrate – allowing more transistor current to flow through the gates.
Each gate is three-sided, giving much finer control of switching – and hence lower voltage. And since the fins are vertical, transistors can be packed closer together.
The fins will get taller. But even at their current height, the 22nm 3D Tri-Gate Ivy Bridge processors are claimed to deliver 37 percent more performance than the current 32nm Sandy Bridge planar chips while consuming less power.
Predicted Paul Otellini, Intel CEO: “Amazing, world-shaping devices will be created from this capability as we advance Moore’s Law into new realms.”
Intel, believes it will have at least a two-year advantage before rivals such as AMD – and ARM – can catch up. And by then Intel plans to have moved to 14nm technology.
The 22nm Ivy Bridge is slated for high-volume production readiness at a number of fabs by the end of this year, and to begin appearing in new products in early 2012.