Intel Promises 10GHz chips with tiny transistors

Intel Corp. announced on Monday what it calls the world’s smallest and fastest transistor, promising microprocessors running at 10GHz.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chipmaker said in a statement it has built a CMOS transistor that is just 0.03 microns wide. As a result Intel should be able to fit 400 million transistors on a microprocessor. Today’s Pentium 4 processors contain 42 million transistors.

Researchers from Intel Labs are disclosing the details of their discovery Monday in San Francisco at the International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM).

The number of transistors on a microprocessor determines its power. The new transistors will begin appearing in products in 2005, Intel said.

The fastest Pentium 4 runs at 1.5GHz. Intel said a microprocessor with the new transistors could run at speeds as fast at 10GHz. That would give an ordinary desktop computer the power to do real-time translations of speech, Intel said.

Power conservation is an additional advantage of the new transistor, Intel said. Using less than one volt of power the processor will be more economical than most of today’s processors for mobile computers.

Intel said its researchers were able to build the ultra-small transistors by “aggressively reducing” all their dimensions.

The industry’s goal is to create the highest possible transistor density on a chip. Making transistors smaller is the main reason electronics-based gear continually becomes more powerful, said the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) in a statement.

International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) also said it would show off advanced chip technology at the IEDM. The Armonk, New York-based company has begun pilot production of a new generation of processors utilizing several new technologies, the company announced Sunday.

Intel in Santa Clara, Calif. can be reached at