3D CPUs to speed computing

3D CPUs to speed computing

A vertical Surround Gate Transistor: Could future processors be cubic rather than wafer?

The Institute of Microelectronics in Singapore has today announced a joint venture with flash-memory pioneer Fujio Masuoka to develop three-dimensional processor designs which promise to greatly increase the performance of CPUs.

The work is based on a technology known as Surrounding Gate Transistors (SGT) - silicon pillars which are each surrounded by electrical contacts and memory cells. By creating the SGT the electrons should (in theory) have less distance to travel to carry out their tasks, reducing the time taken for the CPU to do the all-important calculating required to see if you hit that guy in Crysis or not.

Although Professor Masuoka has been working on the SGT design for over twenty years, this marks the first large-scale project to commercialise his research. He confidently predicts that his work has the capability of producing processors performing “10 times faster” than traditional two-dimensional CPUs, all while making chips cheaper to produce and more energy efficient.

Perhaps the best news to come out of the research is the prediction that the SGT technology could help manufacturers continue to thumb their nose at Moore's Law with the claim that the new design could be good for 30 years before the theoretical speed limits are exhausted.

Although the collaboration certainly looks promising, it's fair to say that neither of the two main CPU manufacturers – Intel or AMD – have yet signed up to the project. It could be quite a while before we're strapping 30GHz 3D processors into our gaming rigs.

Do you feel the need for speed, or are you just looking forward to cheaper chips that might lower your electricity bill? Let us know in the forums.


Discuss in the forums Reply
TreeDude 7th December 2007, 14:13 Quote
I feel the heatsinks for these would be interesting.
Redbeaver 7th December 2007, 14:22 Quote
need for speed of course............
Djizasse 7th December 2007, 16:19 Quote
Originally Posted by TreeDude
I feel the heatsinks for these would be interesting.

That was my first thought :D
Was also thinking how the socket would be, 6 sided socket connection, with channels for cooling?
chrisb2e9 7th December 2007, 16:48 Quote
picture needing enough room for 5 tuniq towers. one for each side. maybe a mini version of each...
DarkLord7854 7th December 2007, 19:31 Quote
Originally Posted by TreeDude
I feel the heatsinks for these would be interesting.

Haha.. I read article and was trying to figure out how it would work in any manner of high efficiency
woodshop 7th December 2007, 19:54 Quote
Does this mean we might be getting Processors that are spears with wire jacks on them?
DarkLord7854 7th December 2007, 20:05 Quote
Originally Posted by woodshop
Does this mean we might be getting Processors that are spears with wire jacks on them?

The Allspark....
Cupboard 7th December 2007, 20:24 Quote
Providing that the processors aren't hugely 3D, I see know reason why the cooling would have to change much. After all, current processors are multi layered, and these new ones should be more power efficient. Though I have to admit, the mental image of a processor set up like a mini nuclear reactor with cooling running through it is quite cool...
proxess 7th December 2007, 20:46 Quote
It won't last long, we'll find something even better in 10 years. All we need is a giant to take a step forward.
wuyanxu 7th December 2007, 22:28 Quote
the processor isn't 3D....... (i know i can't take a joke)

they basically says the gates can be overlapped, so opposed to traditional 1 layer of transistors, they can now have multi-layered, so have multiple times the original building space, thus 100MB cache on a CPU may become possible with the current manufacturing technology.
DXR_13KE 8th December 2007, 12:51 Quote
if intel or amd don't pick this up i bet via or any other small cpu maker will pinch this technology and become a serious cpu maker rapist....
imagine a cell processor with this, or IBM snatching this and making God like cpus...
Ramble 8th December 2007, 22:52 Quote
I read the Intel tech on this about 3 or 4 years ago. It was a bad idea then and it's a bad idea now. There is no way the heat would be dissipated fast enough.
serialnuber2012 9th December 2007, 00:50 Quote
somebody better get out and patent the trademark, "cinderblock" or something... it almost seems like an obvious name for a 3d cpu. "The Cinderblock Tephra -- with pyroclastic flow technology!"

(Tephra is air-fall material produced by a volcanic eruption regardless of composition or fragment size. Tephra is typically rhyolitic in composition as most explosive volcanoes are the product of the more viscous felsic or high silica magmas.)
RotoSequence 9th December 2007, 00:53 Quote
Unless I completely missed the boat, the rest of you have. The article isn't (primarily?) about stacking transistors on top of each other, its about changing their functional orientation. At present, the structure of a transistor is a three dimensional mass of columns and other micro-silicon based structures that have varying electrical properties that allow for them to function as the transistors that make up logic circuits. So far as I can tell, all they are doing is changing the basic orientation so that instead of the silicate layers needed to make the transistors being stacked on top of each other, they're piled next to each other, with the "wires" following the typical design methods of today's processors.

Or am I horribly horribly wrong? :D
Amon 9th December 2007, 02:16 Quote
I'm baffled how chipmakers didn't come up with and apply this before... I had an idea exactly like this (staggered vertical arrangement of transistors) to reduce die size as transistor counts began to increase dramatically around the the time of K8. I find die size to be particularly important for video cards rather than processors as they have not yet adopted widespread use of multiple graphics cores on one card rather than one gigantic and powerful one. Besides, transistor size isn't getting smaller as quick as it used to, so this sort of arrangement of transistors will have to be adopted soon enough.
liquid_gen 9th December 2007, 13:41 Quote
Originally Posted by Ramble
I read the Intel tech on this about 3 or 4 years ago. It was a bad idea then and it's a bad idea now. There is no way the heat would be dissipated fast enough.

I agree, I think heat would be a serious bottleneck for this technology. I think that however you increase speed, you're going to increase temperature and this is already the biggest limiting factor.
ou7blaze 11th December 2007, 15:18 Quote
I have a need for speed and also a need to pay the bills.

Sadly those two can't exist together so I'll go and cry in the corner now :(
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