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In Depth: Intel's Next Generation 22nm Tri-Gate CPUs

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.

intel tri gate

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.

intel tri gate

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.

intel tri gate

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.

intel tri gate

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.

Pbryanw

September 15, 2011, 8:06 am

Thanks for the interesting article Ed (if somewhat hidden away on the front-page). If tri-gate was first tested back in 2012, it makes you wonder what Intel are testing now, and makes you appreciate the time-scales involved in micro-chip design.

I assume these new transistors will be coming with Ivy Bridge? Will be interesting to see how they affect the performance of the new CPUs in real-world testing.

Ed

September 20, 2011, 4:23 pm

Thanks for the kind words.

Yes, this is the technology that will be used in Ivy Bridge.

Real world performance should very much reflect the theoretical as it's a universal improvement. It's somewhat equivalent to upping the horsepower on a car rather than, say, uprating the suspension and brakes - the former you'll always notice whereas the latter require you to drive harder to reap any reward.

Pbryanw

September 25, 2011, 4:19 pm

Thanks for the analogy - it makes more sense now - and a 37% increase in real-world performance sounds good to me. (And, oops, should have been 2002, not 2012, in my original comment).

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