As well as this, the thin fin design allows for multiple transistors to be joined together, allowing for higher drive current and thus higher performance.
Along with some secondary benefits to the raised fin design, the '3D' tri-gate design has marked performance and power saving benefits over simply shrinking the planar transistor design. Specifically you can expect either a 37% improvement in performance for any given power envelope or a 50% reduction in power consumption for any given level of performance as compared to conventional 22nm chips. Yet it's only around 2-3% more expensive to produce.
All this sounds great of course but perhaps the most interesting slide we were shown today is the one that compares Intel's current progress with tri-gate versus the other major chip manufacturers. In projections that these manufacturers haven't disputed, Intel predicts the competition isn't likely to have this technology in production until 2015.
And just to prove how much development is needed to get a technology like this to market, Intel showed us a timeline depicting when it first started testing tri-gate in 2002 and the various steps its had to take to get to manufacturing today.
Sometimes technology enthusiasm is about drooling over the latest sexy looking laptop or telly but equally it's about appreciating the hard work, ingenuity and time that's gone into creating some of the more mundane but equally amazing technologies and devices that have gone into the products we have today. Here's to the scientists and engineers of the world. We salute you.