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Intel Wednesday demonstrated its revolutionary three-dimensional (3-D) Tri-Gate transistor technology in a 22-nm microprocessor, code-named Ivy Bridge, that is already being used in prototype laptops, servers and desktop systems.
Intel said Ivy Bridge, which is "slated for high-volume production readiness" by the end of the year, marks the first time since the invention of silicon transistors more than 50 years ago that a 3-D silicon structure will be put into high-volume manufacturing.
The Ivy Bridge 3-D breakthrough assures Intel's microprocessor technology dominance for years to come and opens the door to a new class of almost unimaginable, ever smaller, ever faster and more energy efficient devices in the years ahead, said system builders.
"This opens the door for technology to keep accelerating at historic rates," said Glen Coffield, a 30-year technology veteran who is president of Smart Guys Computers, a Lake Mary Fla. system builder and computer retailer. "It opens up new technology vistas. I can see years from now a full-powered PC I stick in my pocket and use with Blue Tooth 3D glasses that make it look like I am working on a 60-inch, high-definition screen. That is the kind of breakthrough that will eventually come from this 22 nanometer technology. The whole idea is to make smaller, faster and cooler devices."
Coffield sees a new era of smartphones, tablets and consumer devices like smart televisions being powered by the three-dimensional silicon.
Intel itself characterized its 3-D Tri-Gate technology as a "significant breakthrough" that is a marked departure from the two-dimensional planar transistor that for more than 50 years has powered PCs, laptops, mobile phones and innumerable devices in countless products from home appliances to cars. Intel said the 3-D breakthrough ushers in the next generation of "Moore's law," named after legendary Intel co-founder Gordon Moore.
Moore pioneered the concept that the pace of silicon technology development will double every two years, leading to increased functionality, performance and lower cost computers and electronic devices. "For years we have seen limits to how small transistors can get," said Moore in an Intel press release. "This change in the basic structure is a truly revolutionary approach, and one that should allow Moore's Law and the historic pace of innovation to continue."
That is no small matter given that many viewed Moore's Law on a "death watch" given the limits of two-dimensional transistor development, said Coffield. "There was a feeling that Intel was not going to be able to maintain that pace," he said. "This takes Moore's law to another level."