As a schoolboy, having exhausted my enthusiasm for winding my own tuner coils for home-built crystal set radios, I embarked on my first transistor radio employing one red spot transistor – something which cost many weeks of horded pocket money. The thought of a billion transistors being compressed into a square inch would have seemed inconceivable at the time. Not so today, though.
Intel has now designed a new processor chip where transistors are smaller and use less power because of their fin shape.
Intel has unveiled its next generation of microprocessor technology, code named Ivy Bridge.
The upcoming chips will be the first to use a 22 nanometre manufacturing process, which packs transistors more densely than the current 32nm system.
Intel said it would also be using new Tri-Gate “3D” transistors, which are less power hungry.
Rival chip manufacturers including AMD and IBM are understood to be planning similar designs.
The announcement marks a significant step forward in the commercial processor industry, which is constantly striving to build more transistors onto silicon chips.
One of the main measures of its progress is the length of the transistor “gate”, measured in nanometres (1nm = 1 billionth of a meter).
A human hair is around 60,000 nm wide. Current best microchip technology features a 32nm gate.
It has been known for a long time that 22nm technology would form the next stage in the evolution of microprocessors.
However, the exact nature of Intel’s offering has been a closely guarded secret, until now.
The company expects to begin commercial production later this year.