Intel says that its Tri-Gate transistor, a futuristic transistor that will let electricity flow more freely inside chips, is moving closer to reality. The Tri-Gate transistor, one of the tools that may let Intel continue to follow Moore's Law in the second half of the decade, has been placed on the "pathfinder" development path at Intel, said Ken David, co-director of components research in the Technology Manufacturing Group at Intel. That means that it is one of a select few design alternatives that will get incorporated into chips by 2007.
"We've moved beyond the research stage and are in the development stage," David said. "Within a year or two we will narrow to a single approach and go with that." The company presented a paper this week on the transistor, along with others on breakthroughs in incorporating radios onto chips, at the Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) Symposium in Kyoto, Japan.
Harnessing electricity is one of the major problems facing chip designers today. Under Moore's Law, the number of transistors on a chip double every two years, a phenomenon often accomplished through shrinking the size of the transistors--tiny on-off switches that in concert perform calculations. Unfortunately, small transistors leak electricity, a situation that leads to poor battery life and excess internal heat.
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