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Intel's tiny transistors to usher in 10GHz PCs

Moore's law rolls on

Fancy a computer that instantly translates a foreign language, or understands your gestures?

It will take powerful transistors to build such a system, says Intel - which will take a step in that direction by today unveiling a high-speed transistor technology designed to produce 10GHz CPUs in five to ten years.

The new CMOS transistors feature structures just 0.03 microns wide and three atomic layers thick, according to Rob Willoner, a market analyst in the technology and manufacturing group at Intel. He refers to them as 30 Nanometer Transistors.

That’s small enough for one transistor to fit inside a DNA chain, he says. A vertical pile of 100,000 would be about as thick as a sheet of paper; 30 million would stack up to about one inch.

The transistor's miniscule size means you can pack more of them on a chip. More transistors per chip lets you achieve greater processing power.

Intel will use this technology to make a future processor with as many as 400 million transistors, running at 10GHz and consuming less than one volt of power, according to Willoner. Today's P4 has the most transistors of any modern processor with 42 million, and the Pentium III has 29 million.

The power of real-time computation of speech could also lead to significantly better voice recognition technologies, so your PC could accept complex vocal commands. Or instead, you might control the computer through your gestures.

What's more, Intel's future transistor technology means the company would continue producing processors that keep pace with Moore's Law.

Pronounced by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, it states that the number of transistors that can be placed on a sliver of silicon will double every two years. Moore issued the statement in 1965, and Intel executives say it has remained true since the release of its 4004 processor in 1971. That chip's transistor count: 2300.


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