AMD fabricates first 10-nanometer transistor

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) has fabricated a standard CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) transistor with a gate length of 10 nanometers, six times smaller than the smallest CMOS transistors currently in production, the company announced in a statement Tuesday.

Smaller transistors mean more of them can be placed on a chip, and thereby boost the chip's processing capability. This breakthrough could lead to a chip with 1 billion transistors at a similar size to current chips which hold 100 million transistors, AMD said.

The 10-nanometer transistor relies on a design known as the Fin Field Effect Transistor (FinFET), which adds an extra gate to the traditional single-gate transistor design. The double gate effectively doubles the electrical current that can be sent through a given transistor, and a thin vertical silicon fin helps control leakage of current through the transistor when it is in the off stage, AMD said in its statement.

An advantage of staying with CMOS technology rather than exotic new devices is that the manufacturing process for these chips is well understood, according to AMD. FinFET will be part of future nanoscale CMOS generations which will be manufactured over the next decade, the Sunnyvale, California, company said in the statement.

AMD is not the first company to explore low-nanoscale transistor technology using the FinFET design.

In June, contract-chip maker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (TSMC) announced it had produced 35-nanometer FinFET transistors and said it believed it could get the gate length down to as low as nine nanometers.

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