Intel 3-D Tri-Gate Transistor Holds Promise For Lighter, Thinner Systems

Sometimes referred to as FinFET because the conductive channel is wrapped by a thin silicon "fin," the parts increase the surface area for electron flow without impacting size or power efficiency. Check out this Intel video for a corny yet succinct layman's explanation of how Tri-Gate works compared with planar gates.




Intel Sandy Bridge
A comparable image from Intel's previous-generation 32nm process shows traditional 2-D planar channel.





Also significant, Ivy Bridge is the first Intel processor series with direct support for DirectX 11, the latest version of Microsoft's graphics and multimedia APIs. On this score, Intel archrival AMD is no longer the only game in town. And as Intel promised, Ivy Bridge processors use the same sockets as Sandy Bridge parts.

When it announced last year its ability to mass produce the parts using a 22nm process, Intel estimated performance increases of as much as 37 percent compared with 32nm planar-transistor devices and power consumption at about half or less. Such parts would be highly desired for small handheld units such as smartphones and tablets, medical devices, media players, and portable gaming systems. In fact, anything that can benefit from the ability to switch between high performance and low power consumption would benefit. These days, that includes just about everything.