IBM speeds up transistor for wireless chips

IBM Corp. scientists have developed a transistor that can run at 350GHz, nearly three times faster than any transistor available today, IBM said Monday.

This “world’s fastest” transistor should become part of wireless communications chips running at about 150GHz in around two years and promises better Internet connectivity and lower power consumption, IBM said in a statement.

Mobile phones for 3G (third-generation) networks, for example, could last longer without a battery recharge, IBM said.

Microchips typically hold millions of transistors. The speed of transistors is determined by how fast electrons pass through them, which in turn is dependent on the material used and the distance the electrons must travel.

For its 350GHz transistor, IBM used its silicon germanium, or SiGe, bipolar technology. In bipolar transistors electrons travel vertically, as opposed to horizontally in standard CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) transistors. IBM reduced the height of the transistors to shorten the path for the electrons, the Armonk, N.Y., company said.

Germanium added to silicon further speeds the electrical flow, improves performance and reduces power consumption, IBM said.

IBM will present details on its new transistor at the International Electron Devices Meeting in San Francisco next month.