Intel 45nm CPUs to use metal gates, high-k dielectric

One step ahead of the competition


Intel's 45nm microprocessors will incorporate transistors constructed with metal gates and high-k dielectric materials, the chip maker revealed today. That said, it was tight-lipped about which materials will actually make up these components in its 45nm dual-core die, 'Penryn'.

Penryn's transistors use a metal in place of the polysilicon material that controls the flow of current through today's transistors. And where standard processor transistors separate the gate from the source and drain, and the silicon substrate all these elements are mounted on, Penryn's transistors will use a high-k oxide.

intel's 45nm metal-gate, high-k transistor

The upshot, Intel claimed, was a "significant performance increase and leakage reduction" - less power is required to switch the flow of electrons through the transistor on and off. Leakage - the flow of current outside the transistor - is reduced, Intel said, because the use of a high-k material means the oxide layer can be thicker than is currently the case, making it harder for electrons to leak through. The high-k material is derived from Hafnium, but Intel would say no more.

It said the new transistor construction will see source-drain leakage reduced fivefold and gate oxide leakage tenfold. Or Intel can opt to raise the drive current 20 per cent, boosting the transistor's switch speed, which essentially means faster processing. Those figures are relative to a standard transistor rather than the design implemented in Intel's 65nm transistors, which included a low-k gate oxide.

Intel also claimed the metal gate and high-k combo would yield around a 30 per cent reduction in the power needed to switch the transistor.

Intel has been working on high-k dielectrics since 2003 at the very least, though it's a technique arch-rival AMD has in the past poo-poo'd. It has put its faith in silicon-on-insulator (SOI) technology and a three-gate transistor design.


Other stories you might like

  • Microsoft's do-it-all IDE Visual Studio 2022 came out late last year. How good is it really?

    Top request from devs? A Linux version

    Review Visual Studio goes back a long way. Microsoft always had its own programming languages and tools, beginning with Microsoft Basic in 1975 and Microsoft C 1.0 in 1983.

    The Visual Studio idea came from two main sources. In the early days, Windows applications were coded and compiled using MS-DOS, and there was a MS-DOS IDE called Programmer's Workbench (PWB, first released 1989). The company also came up Visual Basic (VB, first released 1991), which unlike Microsoft C++ had a Windows IDE. Perhaps inspired by VB, Microsoft delivered Visual C++ 1.0 in 1993, replacing the little-used PWB. Visual Studio itself was introduced in 1997, though it was more of a bundle of different Windows development tools initially. The first Visual Studio to integrate C++ and Visual Basic (in .NET guise) development into the same IDE was Visual Studio .NET in 2002, 20 years ago, and this perhaps is the true ancestor of today's IDE.

    A big change in VS 2022, released November, is that it is the first version where the IDE itself runs as a 64-bit process. The advantage is that it has access to more than 4GB memory in the devenv process, this being the shell of the IDE, though of course it is still possible to compile 32-bit applications. The main benefit is for large solutions comprising hundreds of projects. Although a substantial change, it is transparent to developers and from what we can tell, has been a beneficial change.

    Continue reading
  • James Webb Space Telescope has arrived at its new home – an orbit almost a million miles from Earth

    Funnily enough, that's where we want to be right now, too

    The James Webb Space Telescope, the largest and most complex space observatory built by NASA, has reached its final destination: L2, the second Sun-Earth Lagrange point, an orbit located about a million miles away.

    Mission control sent instructions to fire the telescope's thrusters at 1400 EST (1900 UTC) on Monday. The small boost increased its speed by about 3.6 miles per hour to send it to L2, where it will orbit the Sun in line with Earth for the foreseeable future. It takes about 180 days to complete an L2 orbit, Amber Straughn, deputy project scientist for Webb Science Communications at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, said during a live briefing.

    "Webb, welcome home!" blurted NASA's Administrator Bill Nelson. "Congratulations to the team for all of their hard work ensuring Webb's safe arrival at L2 today. We're one step closer to uncovering the mysteries of the universe. And I can't wait to see Webb's first new views of the universe this summer."

    Continue reading
  • LG promises to make home appliance software upgradeable to take on new tasks

    Kids: empty the dishwasher! We can’t, Dad, it’s updating its OS to handle baked on grime from winter curries

    As the right to repair movement gathers pace, Korea’s LG has decided to make sure that its whitegoods can be upgraded.

    The company today announced a scheme called “Evolving Appliances For You.”

    The plan is sketchy: LG has outlined a scenario in which a customer who moves to a locale with climate markedly different to their previous home could use LG’s ThingQ app to upgrade their clothes dryer with new software that makes the appliance better suited to prevailing conditions and to the kind of fabrics you’d wear in a hotter or colder climes. The drier could also get new hardware to handle its new location. An image distributed by LG shows off the ability to change the tune a dryer plays after it finishes a load.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022