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
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
– 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.