SANTA CLARA, Calif., Dec. 7, 2005 – Intel Corporation today
announced development of a new, ultra-fast, yet very low power
prototype transistor using new materials that could form the basis of
its microprocessors and other logic products beginning in the second
half of the next decade.
Intel and QinetiQ researchers have jointly demonstrated an
enhancement-mode transistor using indium antimonide (chemical symbol:
InSb) to conduct electrical current. Transistors control the flow of
information/electrical current inside a chip. The prototype transistor
is much faster and consumes less power than previously announced
transistors. Intel anticipates using this new material to complement
silicon, further extending Moore’s Law.
Significant power reduction at the transistor level, accompanied by
a substantial performance increase, could play a crucial role in
delivering future platforms to computer users by allowing an increased
number of features and capabilities. Considerably less energy used and
heat generated could add significant battery life for mobile devices
and increase opportunities for building smaller more powerful products.
"The results of this research reinforce our confidence in being able
to continue to follow Moore’s Law beyond 2015. As was the case with
other Intel technical advancements, we expect these new materials will
enhance the future of silicon-based semiconductors," said Ken David,
director of components research for Intel's Technology and
Manufacturing Group "By providing 50 percent more performance while
reducing power consumption by roughly 10 times, this new material will
give us considerable flexibility because we will have ability to
optimize for both performance and power of future platforms."
InSb is in a class of materials called III-V compound semiconductors
which are in use today for a variety of discrete and small scale
integrated devices such as radio-frequency amplifiers, microwave
devices and semiconductor lasers.
Researchers from Intel and QinetiQ have previously announced
transistors with InSb channels. The prototype transistors being
announced today, with a gate length of 85nm, are the smallest ever, at
less than half the size of those disclosed earlier. This is the first
time that enhancement mode transistors have been demonstrated.
Enhancement mode transistors are the predominant type of transistor
used in microprocessors and other logic. These transistors are able to
operate at a reduced voltage, about 0.5 volts – roughly half of that
for transistors in today’s chips – which leads to chips with far less
"This research is a great example of how QinetiQ, working with other
world-leading companies such as Intel, is targeting its research in
technologies with commercial potential," said Tim Phillips, business
manager of the Fast Transistors group at QinetiQ.
Details will be provided at the IEDM conference Dec. 5-7, in
Washington, D.C., where the formal paper describing this advancement
will be delivered. The paper is titled, "85nm Gate Length Enhancement
and Depletion mode InSb Quantum Well Transistors for Ultra High Speed
and Very Low Power Digital Logic Applications."
Source: Intel Press Release