The technology that drives the personal computer industry has grown at an alarming rate since the 1960s. Gordon Moore stated in 1965 that the amount of transistors on a microchip would double every 2 years, and for the most part he’s been correct in his statement, known affectionately as Moore’s Law.
In the last 40 years, the development of microchip technology has been exponential and continues to be so, but in the last three years or so the threat of a slow down emerged as the technology being developed so fervently was beginning to fall apart.
A microchip works with a series of transistors on it that are switched and off to match the 0s and 1s which computers read as the basis for digital information and display. The catalyst for this change, silicon dioxide, the namesake of Silicon Valley, is layered between these and charged with electricity to perform jus this task. Of late, the charge is beginning to leak though as the technology shaves the silicon thinner and thinner on those processors.
The dilemma of finding a new technology that would allow companies like Intel and AMD to maintain their steady production growth and development was a pressing issue, until now. In a tandem announcement, from two separate companies, the problem has been announced as solved, opening doors in the field that were never thought possible.
The new chips would replace the silicon dioxide used to charge their transistors with microscopic metal gates instead. The rush to find a smaller more efficient means of chip production has long been a major puzzle for the chip manufacturing companies. Intel and IBM both though have made what some industry experts are calling the biggest breakthrough since the 1960s and the development of the technology we all use today.
In a world where smaller is better and efficiency is best, Intel’s Pentium chips were taking nearly as much electricity as a small television to run. The problem are multiple, but foremost for the world’s largest chip producer was the problem of marketability. The world is becoming increasingly smaller and more connected with the use of laptops and cell phones, but a chip with such outrageous energy consumption was not nearly efficient enough for the mobile world. This new technology will prove not only a major step forward in the marketing of Intel products in mobile technologies, but the development of mobile technologies in general, as they’re able to contain faster more dynamic chips.
The new transistor technology will require 30 percent less energy to turn each transistor on and will allow for a 20 percent boost in performance. The transistors themselves are no bigger than 45 nanometers. To put that in perspective, nearly “400 of the switches could be placed on the surface of a human blood cell.”