RealTime IT News

AMD Develops Faster SOI Transistors

Researchers at AMD Wednesday said they have come up with a new transistor that is 30 percent faster than the most current PMOS (P-channel metal-oxide semiconductor) transistor on the market.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based semiconductor maker said its R&D labs created the high-performance transistor to operate with less current leakage and lower voltage requirements. AMD said it expects the new transistor technology to play a critical role in semiconductor manufacturing in the next three to seven years.

The transistor employs proprietary AMD technologies involving what is commonly referred to as "Fully Depleted Silicon-on-Insulator" or SOI. The company said it would release full details about the technology in June at this year's VLSI Symposium in Kyoto, Japan.

In addition, AMD said its researchers have also come up wit a strained silicon transistor it claims is 20-25 percent faster than conventional strained silicon devices through the successful use of metal gates.

"Good design starts with having the right tools and materials," added Fred Weber, vice president and CTO for AMD's Computational Products Group. "Advanced research such as this is what ultimately enables AMD to deliver the leading-edge functionality and architectural elegance that customers have come to expect from us."

A fabrication technique developed by IBM , SOI uses pure crystal silicon and silicon oxide for built-in circuits and microchips. The configuration makes them faster than CMOS-based chips (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) and power consumption is reduced 80 percent, which makes them ideal for mobile devices. SOI chips also reduce the soft error rate, which is data corruption caused by cosmic rays and natural radioactive background signals.

The production of SOI chips requires minor restructuring of current fabrication methods and facilities allowing microchip manufacturers such as Intel or AMD to produce SOI chips with little extra cost. IBM expects its SOI chips will replace current CMOS-based chips in consumer-oriented devices beginning in 2002.