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Intel 45-nanometer Penryn Processors Arrive

Penryn chips are the result of the first fundamental redesign of the CMOS transistor

1 min read

13 November 2007— On 11 November Intel announced the release of 16 server and high-end PC processors based on the first fundamental redesign of the CMOS transistor in 40 years. The chips are built using a manufacturing process that can make structures as small as 45 nanometers. The transistors it makes aren’t just small; they include several materials not previously used. The gates are now made from metal instead of polycrystalline silicon, and the insulating layer between the gate and the transistor channel are made from a hafnium-based high-k dielectric material instead of silicon dioxide.

The materials switch eliminates a serious problem that has been plaguing transistors for the several generations. Transistors had shrunk to the point where quantum mechanical effects have been causing current to leak through the thin silicon dioxide insulation layer between the gate and the channel. Switching to a high-k dielectric stemmed the leak, but also necessitated a switch to a metal gate.

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The Transistor at 75

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

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

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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