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Electronic Design

20-nm Transistors Foretell 20-GHz CPUs

Pursuing aggressive reduction techniques, Intel researchers in Santa Clara, Calif., have built transistors just 20 nm in size and foresee what they consider to be the world's fastest silicon transistors. This, they say, will allow them to build microprocessors with a billion transistors and 20-GHz speeds by 2007.

The novel transistors are 30% smaller and 25% faster than the industry's current fastest devices. They turn on and off over a trillion times per second. According to Intel, microprocessors created with these transistors will be able to complete close to a billion calculations in the blink of an eye.

Gate oxides, used to build these transistors, are just three atomic layers thick. Intel researchers say that more than 100,000 of these gate-oxide layers would need to be stacked to achieve the thickness of a piece of paper. The devices were built using the same physical structure and materials used in today's computer chips. The company plans to employ a different class of gate-oxide material at the time these transistors advance to production.

Intel believes the development of these transistors demonstrates that there are no fundamental barriers to extending Moore's Law for another decade. These transistors will be the basis of Intel's 45-nm process generation. The company plans to have this process in production by 2007.

For more information about the new Intel 20-nm transistors, visit

TAGS: Intel
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