Intel Makes Breakthrough with Three Dimensional Tri-Gate Transistors

Intel announced a transistor breakthrough today. The company will manufacture the first transistors using a three-dimensional structure in high-volume production. The three-dimensional transistor, called Tri-Gate, will be used at the 22-nanometer node in an Intel Ivy Bridge microprocessor. The 3D Tri-Gate transistor is a revolutionary change from the current two-dimensional planar transistor structure used in computers, mobile phones, consumer electronics, and electronic controls within cars, spacecraft, household appliances, and medical devices.

Intel's 22nm 3D tri-gate transistor - the vertical fins of the tri-gate transistors passing through the gates

Intel Tri-Gate Transistors Highlights

  • World’s first 3-D transistors in a production technology
  • 22nm microprocessor (codenamed Ivy Bridge) will be the first high-volume chip to use 3-D Tri-Gate transistors
  • Fundamental departure from the two-dimensional planar transistor structure used for decades
  • 3D Tri-Gate transistors enable chips to operate at lower voltage with lower leakage
  • Intel’s 22nm 3-D Tri-Gate transistors provide up to 37% performance increase at low voltage (compared to Intel’s 32nm planar transistors)
  • Consume less than half the power when at the same performance as 2-D planar transistors on 32nm chips
  • The flat two-dimensional planar gate is replaced with a 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)
  • Additional control enables as much transistor current flowing as possible when the transistor is in the on state (for performance), and as close to zero as possible when it is in the off state (to minimize power)
  • Transistor switches very quickly between the two states (again, for performance)
  • Transistors can be packed closer together because the fins are vertical
  • Ideal for use in small handheld devices, which operate using less energy to switch back and forth

More info: Intel