Rattner talks about future transistor technology

Written by Tim Smalley

August 23, 2008 // 2:23 a.m.

Tags: #ball #crystal #idf #idf-fall-2008 #intel #justin #rattner #technology #transistor

Intel Chief Technology Officer Justin Rattner said that it’s likely there will need to be more changes made to the way transistors work sooner than we think.

He said that Intel is locked and loaded when it comes to its 32nm process—and it has already demoed working 32nm SRAMs as early as last September—but he said that there’s still quite a bit of work to do before Intel starts to finalise things at 22nm.

The jury is still out at 22nm and beyond,” he said. “As to whether we’ll continue with traditional transistors, or whether we’ll move to a surface device such as tri-gate transistors that we’ve been talking about now for at least the last four or five years.

Rattner added that it’s a decision Intel is going to face at at either 22nm or probably at 16nm. “It’s a very important transition—it’s as important as high-k metal gate—because once you’re on the surface you’re going to have a much wider choice of materials. And you can build conventional CMOS devices with tri-gate transistors, which are essentially just better CMOS transistors.

He then continued to talk about how he believes that CMOS technology will be a workhorse for years to come without getting awfully specific.

When I asked Rattner to be more specific about how long we can expect CMOS technology to be used, he said that he’s confident that Intel will be using fairly familiar charge-based transistor technology until at least 2020 and maybe beyond that, too.

It’s sometime in that next decade [after the transition to surface CMOS technology] around the time when we’re making 10nm devices that we want to start looking at other quantum properties,” said Rattner. “Historically, we’ve not been able to look more than a decade out and it takes around a decade to perfect the use of these new materials. For example, our work in high-k started about a decade ago and that’s a good measure for how long these technology advancements take.

So, according to Rattner, we’ll be seeing devices using CMOS technology for quite some time now and Intel is already starting to think beyond then, too. Another thing I learned from the chat I had with him was just how much of a step forward the transition to high-k metal gate was – we’re not going to see a similar leap in technology for quite a few years.

How long do you think Intel can continue to follow Moore’s Law? Share your thoughts in the forums.

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