Intel’s 3D chip hailed as ‘next big thing’

A POTENTIALLY groundbreaking 3D microchip developed by engineers at Intel in a decade-long process is being hailed as “revolutionary” and could lead to generations of advances in computing.

In what is being seen as potentially the biggest breakthrough in microprocessor design in half a century, the company has found a way to mass produce its silicon transistors in three dimensions instead of two. This will ensure it can pack more power into its chips and may pave the way for the next generation of computing advances.

Microchip transistors, the key building blocks of electronics, up to now have been produced in flat structures. Intel’s latest advance allows it to make more complex three dimensional transistors on chips.

The microchip giant has called the new design the biggest advance since the introduction of the transistor in the 1950s. It also said the breakthrough continues to prove Moore’s Law, an accurate prediction in 1965 by Intel founder Gordon Moore that the number of transistors on a chip could be doubled approximately every two years.

The breakthrough could also be seen as good news for Ireland as the company employs almost 4,000 people here.

Chief executive of the Tyndall Institute at UCC Professor Roger Whatmore said the new chip will ensure smaller, faster and more efficient products into the future.

“It will deliver much longer battery life for portable electronics like mobile phones and notebook computers. It really is the next big thing in silicon technology,” he said.

General manager of Intel Ireland Eamonn Sinnott said the discovery would allow Intel to continue to double the performance of its chips every two years.

He said the company hoped to introduce the new chips by the end of the year for eventual use in a range of technology products like laptops, PCs and eventually mobile phones too.


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