Full speed ahead for IBM transistor

IBM on Monday will unveil a new transistor design for wireless chips that promises enough power to build future networks that will change the way people use wireless at work and at home.

The new transistor design, based on its silicon germanium, or SiGe, chipmaking technology, delivers a threefold increase in speed. The company's microelectronics division will detail the design at the International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM) in San Francisco in December.

The new IBM transistor, which runs at 350GHz, will result in communications chips that run at roughly 150GHz and will be able to send data at rates of hundreds of gigabits per second. That's enough juice to send high-quality video from a set-top to a high-definition screen, an IBM representative said

These chips will be about four to five times faster in clock speed than today's fastest communications chips used in wireless LANs (local area networks) and home networks and will consume about a 10th of the power, the representative said.

A transistor is essentially an on-off switch for transmitting signals. Millions of them are weaved together in circuits, which make up chips. SiGe technology embeds germanium atoms at various places into the silicon crystal that makes up a transistor. The addition of the atoms improves the flow of electricity through a transistor, which increases performance or can be used to decrease power consumption.

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News source: C|net

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