Intel Unveils Groundbreaking Tri-Gate Transistors for 22nm Chips

Intel Unveils Groundbreaking Tri-Gate Transistors for 22nm Chips
Intel Unveils Groundbreaking Tri-Gate Transistors for 22nm Chips

Intel announced plans Wednesday to begin high-volume manufacturing of 22-nanometer chips with its long-awaited tri-gate transistors, a move that Wall Street analysts say will put it far ahead of its competitors in the long-term with regards to its ability to shrink the size of chips and enhance their power. But investors apparently were initially disappointed that Intel's announcement didn't address the short-term challenges it faces in creating a chip to compete in the smartphone and tablet computer arena.

Shares of Intel (INTC), which earlier in the day rose as the broader markets bled red ink, took a turn for the worse after its announcement, dropping 1.43% to an intra-day low of $22.72 a share. However, as investors absorbed the news, Intel's shares advanced again as the broader markets continued to lag.

Analysts said investors may have initially wanted to hear more details about how Intel plans to grab market share from British tech firm ARM Holdings (ARMH), the dominant chip maker for tablet computers. Intel has previously said it plans to offer more information later this year on its competitive response to ARM. Last month, Intel said it was willing to accelerate the release of its Atom chip to 2013, ahead of its traditional release cycle, a PC Worldreport noted. As smartphones and tablet computers quickly encroach into PC and laptop sales, Intel's bread-and-butter, investors are concerned the chip giant isn't responding fast enough, says one analyst.

Intel chart
Intel chart

Nonetheless, Intel's tri-gate transistor announcement, as previously reported, will help the chip giant stay on track to develop smaller and smaller chips with improved power and performance. Previously, industry-watchers thought Intel would roll out 22nm chips using its older, two-dimensional planar transistor technology. But instead, the chip giant will use the 3-D tri-gate transistors.

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Intel says its 22nm tri-gate transistors can deliver up to a 37% increase in performance and operate at a lower voltage, making the chips built with them a good fit for small handheld devices, as well as cloud-based servers.

"The performance gains and power savings of Intel's unique 3-D tri-gate transistors are like nothing we've seen before," said Mark Bohr, an Intel senior fellow, in a statement. "This milestone is going further than simply keeping up with Moore's Law. The low-voltage and low-power benefits far exceed what we typically see from one process generation to the next. It will give product designers the flexibility to make current devices smarter and wholly new ones possible."

Moore's Law
refers to a pattern noted by Intel cofounder Gordon Moore, who predicted that the number of transistors on a chip would double about every two years, which in turn would improve chip performance. Intel has met that pace for more than four decades.

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