Intel says that its new gate dielectric and metal gate allow transistors to be driven with 20 percent more current than before, which translates into a 20 percent increase in performance, says Mark Bohr, Intel senior fellow. “We think this is an important breakthrough that will really extend Moore’s Law.”
Bohr points out that high-k gate dielectric and metal-gate research are not new, and that research papers have been being published on advances in the field for years. However, he’s confident that Intel has found the best combination of materials that can keep its chip manufacturing on track into the next decade.
The key to implementing these new materials successfully is to make sure that they can seamlessly fit into a manufacturing line, says Bernard Meyerson, chief technologist at IBM. “You have to take a careful look at how this is implemented,” he says. IBM has found a way to add the new materials to the fabrication process without overhauling the entire process, he says, which could be expensive. Intel’s Bohr says that in terms of manufacturing the new chips at his company, “most of the process equipment is the same as in past generations.”