IBM, AMD Speed Chips by Straining Silicon Wafers

Researchers at IBM and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. have improved a chip-making technology called strained silicon, boosting semiconductor performance at a time when such gains are increasingly hard to come by, the companies said on Sunday. Both companies said they will begin shipping microprocessors that use the technology, called dual-stress strained silicon, early next year. The advance costs little to install in factories and boosts transistor performance by about 12 percent, compared with current straining technologies, they said.

In the process, silicon is chemically stretched or strained, which improves the flow of electrons. "We have succeeded in building a better mousetrap, but doing it by innovating with the conventional materials," said Nick Kepler, the vice president of logic technology development at AMD. Chip makers have turned to more exotic materials and processes to keep up with Moore's Law, the industry tenet which holds that chip performance increases exponentially because the number of transistors on a chip doubles every 18 months.

News source: Reuters

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