AMD overhauls transistors, chips

Thanks to xStaindx for submitting this article in the BPN...Advanced Micro Devices is combing through the scientific cookbook in its quest to improve its chips. The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based chipmaker is examining how to incorporate a wide variety of cutting-edge concepts--strained silicon, multi-gate transistors, replacing silicon with metal in key transistor components--to boost the performance of chips that will hit the market in the second half of the decade.

The race to change the basic structure of microprocessors is a matter of survival, said Craig Sander, vice president of process technology at AMD. Chips are increasingly getting smaller and running at faster speeds, but many of the materials and structures used to make processors these days can't be pushed much more without unleashing unintended consequences.

The gate oxide, for example, one of the crucial components of a transistor, is only about five or six atomic layers thick on current chips, Sander said. Further thinning, without creative changes, will cause electricity to leak, leading to lower battery life, excessive power consumption and potentially dangerous levels of heat inside computers. "More than ever, we are up against power constraints," Sander said. Without manufacturing improvements "we are out of business."

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News source: CNet

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