Intel announced a major technical breakthrough in chip fabrication technology with the planned introduction of so-called 3D tri-gate transistors.
Far from being a blue sky research oddity, Intel demonstrated the firm’s next-generation of CPU architecture codenamed ‘Ivy Bridge’ build with the new 3D transistor process.
"Intel’s scientists and engineers have once again reinvented the transistor, this time utilizing the third dimension," said Intel boss Paul Otellini.
"Amazing, world-shaping devices will be created from this capability as we advance Moore’s Law into new realms."
The technology will also be fabricated with a new smaller-than-ever 22 nanometre process and feature a three dimensional ‘fin’ arrangement on the transistor gates which provides additional surface area to enable greater conductivity.
The result will be chips that are able to use less power or run faster at the same power levels. Intel said that the new process would provide a hefty 37 per cent boost in performance at the same power over the firm’s Sandy Bridge 32nm planar transistors.
"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," said Intel process boss Mark Bohr.
Intel flexing the firm’s formidable research and manufacturing prowess will have ramifications in low power devices, potentially allowing the firm to finally produce designs competitive with ARM processors which currently dominate mobile categories.
Intel processors based on the new technology will go into volume production towards the end of the year.
Intel’s Mark Bohr explained the process, starting out by attempting to explain the scale of the tiny transistors: