OVER 6 DECADES OF CONTINUED TRANSISTOR SHRINKAGE, INNOVATION
Intel’s 22 Nanometer Technology Moves the Transistor into the 3 Dimension
SANTA CLARA, Calif., May 2011 – Since the invention of the transistor in 1947, technology
has progressed swiftly, paving the way for ever more powerful, yet more cost-effective and
energy-efficient products. ...Continuation of these advances, at the pace dictated by Moore’s Law,
has required numerous innovations; recent notable ones are strained silicon (introduced by Intel
in 2003) and high-k/metal gate (introduced by Intel in 2007). Intel is now about to make yet
another radical change in its transistor design, one that will deliver an unprecedented
combination of performance and energy efficiency in a whole range of computers, from servers
to desktops, and from laptops to handheld devices.
For the first time in history, silicon transistors are entering the third dimension. Intel is
introducing the tri-gate transistor, in which the transistor channel is raised into the 3 dimension.
Current flow is controlled on 3 sides of the channel (top, left and right) rather than just from the
top, as in conventional, planar transistors. The net result is much better control of the transistor,
maximizing current flow (for best performance) when it is on, and minimizing it (reducing
leakage) when it is off.
Let’s take a look back at the transistor’s history and key milestones as Intel’s 22nm
innovation ushers in new semiconductor technology and ensures the continuation of
Moore’s Law for the foreseeable future.
Dec. 16, 1947: William Shockley, John Bardeen and Walter Brattain
successfully build the first transistor at Bell Labs.
1950: William Shockley develops the bipolar junction transistor, the device
most commonly referred to as a transistor by today’s standard.
Oct. 18, 1954: The first transistor radio, the Regency TR1, was put on the market and
contained just four germanium transistors.
April 25, 1961: The first patent is awarded to Robert Noyce for an integrated
circuit. Original transistors had been sufficient for use in radios and phones,
but newer electronics required something smaller – the integrated circuit.
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1965: Moore’s Law is born when Gordon Moore predicts that the number of
transistors on a chip will double roughly every year (a decade later, revised
to every 2 years) in the future, as stated in an article in Electronics
Magazine. Three years later, he and Bob Noyce founded Intel, short for
1969: Intel develops the first successful PMOS silicon gate transistor technology. These
transistors continue to use a traditional silicon dioxide (SiO ) gate dielectric, but
introduce new polysilicon gate electrodes.
1971: Intel launches its first microprocessor – the 4004. The 4004 was 1/8 of an
inch by 1/16 of an inch, contained 2250 transistors and was manufactured with
Intel’s 10micron PMOS technology on 2 inch wafers.
1985: The Intel386™ microprocessor is released, featuring 275,000 transistors –
more than 100 times as many as the original 4004. It was a 32-bit chip and
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