IBM has created a new transistor capable of operating at clock speeds in excess of 200GHz.
Chips based on the transistor are at least two years off, and even then you're looking at 100GHz parts. They will also be aimed at embedded applications, specifically communications roles, such as wireless and optical networking. It will be some time before this technology makes its way to the desktop.
Still, the headline clock speed is impressive, and IBM, stung presumably by Intel's announcement of a 0.02 micron transistor, is quick to boast that it will get to 100GHz four years sooner than "recently-announced competitive approaches".
So how's will it achieve this goal? The transistor is based on a silicon germanium (SiGe) compound, rather nthan regular chip silicon. IBM has been working with this material, which has far better electrical properties than ordinary silicon, for some time. Big Blue claims that a 210GHz chip using its new SiGe transistor will draw just 1mA of current and consume less than half the power of today's chips.
In addition to the use of SiGe, IBM's new transistor's internal workings are mounted vertically rather than horizontally, the way they are traditionally designed.
This, says IBM, allows the thickness of the gate to be more easily narrowed, in turn making it easier to shorten the distance electrons travel through the device, in turn improving the transistor's performance. ®