A transistor’s basic design comprises separate electrodes for incoming and outgoing current, known as the source and drain; material connecting the two, known as the channel; and a third electrode known as the gate, which controls the flow of current. Rather than being a flat layer, the channel of Intel’s reinvented transistors is a long “fin” that protrudes up into the gate electrode above, creating a more intimate electrical connection between the layers. Intel refers to its three-dimensional transistors as having a “tri-gate” design.
Similar designs were first suggested in Japan in the 1980s, and developed for many years at the University of California, Berkeley, starting in the 1990s. Intel started investigating the design around 2000, says Bohr, and in 2008 committed to using it. “It’s one thing to make a lab device, but a very different thing to make sure it can produce chips at low cost and high volume,” says Bohr. He says Intel is reusing many existing factory processes, and, as a result, patterning a silicon wafer with Ivy Bridge designs costs only around 2 percent more than it did for Intel’s previous generation of chips.
When does the grown up conversation begin regarding the unknown effects the exponential growth of technological power will have on our economy and culture?
The more apocalyptic prophesies emerge explaining how global debt and national debt will bury us all in the next 10 or 20 years, the more it seems as though a crucial variable is ignored in how humanity might survive the avalanche: the unimaginable wealth that will come from new technological breakthroughs.