IBM simulates new transistor in race with Intel

IBM used its Blue Gene supercomputing to model an improved transistor in its race with Intel to build faster chips

IBM has taken a large stride in its race with Intel to make faster, smaller chips by building silicon transistors from a rare combination of metals.

Both companies announced in January that they had discovered the special materials they needed to build "high-k metal gate" transistors. The special materials are much better insulators than standard silicon dioxide, a crucial trait as chip designers struggle to fit more and more transistors on each microprocessor, since electricity tends to leak from the closely-packed wires, making them hot and inefficient.

Until now, neither company had announced the ingredients of this new mix of materials. But IBM researchers said on Monday they had used their Blue Gene supercomputer to model 50 combinations of hafnium dioxide and basic silicon. The company plans to build chips based on the new mixture in 2008.

The new material looked good in theory, but IBM engineers had to create simulations of different mixtures to avoid any surprises when they added it to semiconductor production lines, said Alessandro Curioni, a supercomputing expert at IBM's Zurich Research Laboratory. Curioni was one of three authors who published this research in a paper published in the January edition of the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

The team used new algorithms and a Blue Gene/L supercomputer with 4,096 processors to crunch the numbers. The program took about five days to run a simulation for each combination of ingredients, modeling the interaction between individual particles for the 600 atoms in every model. If the researchers had used a typical notebook PC, the 250-day job would have taken them 700 years, he said.

Despite IBM's advance, Intel insists it is on track to reach markets first with chips using its own type of "high-k metal gate" transistors. Intel plans to use the technology in a family of 45-nanometer architecture chips scheduled for launch later in 2007, the company said.

Join the newsletter!

Or
Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ben Ames

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?