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Intel Researchers Move Advanced Triple-Gate Transistor Design One Step Closer to Production; Researchers Also Develop Digital CMOS Radio Components for Wireless Communications.

Business Editors/High-Tech Writers

2003 Symposia of VLSI Technology and Circuits

KYOTO, Japan--(BUSINESS WIRE)--June 12, 2003

Intel Corporation revealed new details of its advanced "tri-gate" transistor design this week at the 2003 Symposia of VLSI Technology and Circuits in Kyoto, Japan and said that the tri-gate transistor is moving from research to the development phase. The design of this novel three-dimensional (3-D) transistor will allow the company to continue to drive Moore's Law and to deliver higher performance, lower power processors in the future.

Additional disclosures were made on the company's research efforts to develop digital CMOS radios using its low-cost manufacturing technology process and to design low power, high-performance circuits.

Fast transistors are one of the key building blocks of high-performance microprocessors. Since originally announced last year, Intel researchers have successfully shrunk the size of the tri-gate transistor (measured by the gate length) from 60 nanometers (nm) to 30 nm. Transistors with a smaller gate switch on and off faster, ultimately enabling faster microprocessors.

"Our latest research indicates that the scalability, performance and excellent manufacturability of our tri-gate transistor makes it a strong contender for production as early as 2007 on our 45-nm process technology," said Sunlin Chou, senior vice president and general manager of Intel's Technology and Manufacturing Group. "The results place non-planar, 3-D transistor structures among the promising nanotechnology innovations that we will use to extend silicon scaling and Moore's Law well into the future."

Intel's tri-gate transistor employs a novel 3-D gate structure, like a raised plateau with vertical sides, which allows electrical signals to be sent along the top of the transistor gate and along both vertical sidewalls. This effectively triples the space available for electrical signals to travel, like turning a one-lane road into a three-lane highway, but without taking up more area. This gives the tri-gate transistor much higher performance than today's planar (flat) transistors.

Intel's tri-gate transistor is designed so that it can be manufactured in high volume, a factor that will be key in moving it from the development stage into production. The tri-gate transistor design also addresses the growing current leakage problem that the industry faces as CMOS devices are made ever smaller. Due to its unique structure, the tri-gate transistor's leakage is far less than that of a planar transistor of the same size. Intel has moved the tri-gate transistor design from research to the development phase, and experimental devices have been successfully manufactured at Intel's 300-mm wafer fabrication facility (Fab D1C) in Hillsboro, Ore.

Intel CMOS Radio Research

Also at VLSI, Intel unveiled new research results in the area of silicon radios, where the company seeks to accelerate the convergence of computing and communication technologies by building radios in the same low-cost CMOS manufacturing process used for its high-volume, high-yield microprocessors and chipsets. In the future, these radios are expected to be integrated into Intel chips so that any device powered by one of those chips would have wireless communication capabilities.

Intel researchers disclosed that they successfully developed a high-quality oscillator operating at 5GHz (the frequencies at which 802.11a operates) on the company's CMOS process. This same 5GHz signal can also be used to generate signals for the 2.4GHz band (the frequency at which 802.11b and g operate). The oscillator is likened to a pacemaker for the radio and determines the frequency at which signals are transmitted and received. Additionally, Intel developed a synthesizer running at 10GHz that will enable radios to switch between channels significantly faster than existing solutions. This ability to quickly switch to and listen on channels will help a radio locate and utilize the best spectrum in a given environment. Ultimately, this could result in more bandwidth, extended coverage and higher reliability for users' wireless connections.

These core radio components are typically developed exclusively using analog process technology. Intel, however, used its 0.18-micron digital CMOS process to develop the oscillator and synthesizer. By building these analog radio components with a digital manufacturing process, Intel aims to lower the cost of adding wireless capabilities to future products.

Low Power, High Performance Circuits

Finally, Intel presented additional papers on low power, high-performance circuit design. As transistors get smaller issues like leakage power, heat dissipation and transistor variation pose significant issues. Intel researchers are working on control and avoidance technologies to minimize the effects of these issues, as well as ways to improve computational efficiency to provide higher performance processors that consume less power and produce less heat. The ultimate objective is to continue on the path of Moore's Law while paving the way for more power-efficient computing.

Intel, the world's largest chip maker, is also a leading manufacturer of computer, networking and communications products. Additional information about Intel is available at www.intel.com/pressroom.

Intel is a trademark or registered trademark of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries.

* Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.
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Date:Jun 12, 2003
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