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Foundries Rush 3-D Transistors

Nearly two years after Intel, the world's leading foundries scramble to get FinFETs into the hands of chip designers

3 min read
Foundries Rush 3-D Transistors

The 3-D transistor is poised to go mainstream. After falling behind Intel, the world’s biggest foundries are all gearing up to produce these cutting edge switches. And to accelerate the process, some have opted to take an unusual step: marrying the new transistors with an older approach to building the wiring that ties them together on a chip.

The hope is that this hybrid strategy will help foundries make 3-D transistors, or FinFETs, available to most of the world’s semiconductor firms by 2014, a good year earlier than anticipated. That could help close the gap with Intel, which unveiled the first commercial 3-D transistor process in 2011 and likely aims to supply the technology, with few exceptions, only to itself. Intel plans to release the transistors in smartphone and tablet chips tailor-made to compete against the foundries’ customers. 

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The Transistor at 75

The past, present, and future of the modern world’s most important invention

2 min read
A photo of a birthday cake with 75 written on it.
Lisa Sheehan

Seventy-five years is a long time. It’s so long that most of us don’t remember a time before the transistor, and long enough for many engineers to have devoted entire careers to its use and development. In honor of this most important of technological achievements, this issue’s package of articles explores the transistor’s historical journey and potential future.

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