Business World

Wednesday 29 March 2017

Intel's new '3-D' manufactured chip to extend lead over rivals

Ian King

Intel, which employs over 4,000 people in Ireland, has unveiled a processor made with a '3-D' manufacturing technique that increases chip performance by as much as 37pc while using less power.

The new Ivy Bridge processor will be in production by the end of this year, the Santa Clara, California-based Intel said yesterday. The chip is the first to rely on 3-D tri-gate transistors, an approach almost 10 years in the making that squeezes 22-nanometer circuits on to a piece of silicon.

"This breakthrough will extend Intel's lead even further over the rest of the semiconductor industry," Intel senior fellow Mark Bohr said.

While mainly designed for personal computers, the new technology could help Intel get its processors into phones and other battery-powered devices because it uses less power.

Though four-fifths of PCs sold are based on Intel processors, there are no phones that feature its designs. The new chips could draw half the power of current models when processing at the same speed, saving battery life.

The more transistors on a chip, the more information it can handle. Packing transistors closer together makes processors more powerful, cheaper or more power-efficient, depending on the designer's priorities.

Until now, horizontally shrinking the line widths of transistor circuits has been the way to increase their density.

The 3-D approach adds a vertical element, helping fit more of them on the chip and improving their responsiveness, Intel said. The new lines are 22 nanometers, compared with 32 nanometers with the previous generation of chips. A nanometer is a billionth of a meter.

Intel rose 18 cents to $23.23 yesterday.

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