AMD revealed new research today that has lead to it developing a transistor that runs at more than 3.33THz (3300GHz).
The report comes just a week after Intel said it had manufactured a transistor capable of speeds of over 1THz.
AMD's experimental transistor, whose gate length measures just 15nm across (0.015 microns), is more than six times smaller than transistors in today's commercial processors, which have a gate length of around 100nm (0.1 microns).
The gate length in a transistor is related to process size, and the most advanced chip technology has a process size of 0.13 microns. This means that the spaces and lines on the surface of a processor are 0.13 microns apart, and the gate length has to fit within the process size in order to work.
Having a transistor this small means that a processor could fit up to twenty times the number of transistors than at present, increasing the performance of the chip by ten times.
AMD's 15nm device is a prototype that is key to the development of its 30nm process generation, which the company plans to have in production by approximately 2009. On its roadmap, the 30nm (0.03 micron) technology will make use of 300mm wafers.
The 15nm transistor, devised in AMD's Submicron Development Centre, is a CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) based, 0.8V device, designed to handle switching speeds 3.33 trillion switches per second.
The chip company disclosed its research in a paper presented today [4 December] at the 2001 International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM), in Washington DC.
"The work to develop this transistor is a vital part of AMD's overall transistor development effort," said Dr. Craig Sander, vice president of AMD's technology development group.
"This research gives us confidence in our long-term roadmaps and strategies, while providing spin-off technology that feeds our near-term development program."
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