In a move that could remake the microchip industry, Intel announced Wednesday it will start mass-producing the first three-dimensional silicon transistors. The 3-D transistor design, which Intel says will improve efficiency by more than one-third, will be integrated into a 22-nanometer node in an Intel chip called Ivy Bridge.
The Tri-Gate transistors consist of a thin 3-D silicon fin that arises vertically from the silicon substrate, Intel explains. Each fin has three gates, one on the top and one on each side, which allows for greater transistor current control. When it’s on, current flow is more efficient, and when the switches are off, the flow of electrons is closer to zero. By contrast, flat transistors have one gate, only on top.