The Lightbulb That Really Is a Better Idea

LED bulbs change the lighting equation

4 min read
The Lightbulb That Really Is a Better Idea

Five years ago they were in the lab; now you can buy LED lightbulbs at a hardware store. Should you? They produce as much light as incandescent bulbs for less than a fifth the electricity and heat, they last up to 20 years, and they fit in standard sockets.

Even more important, today's models—unlike previous generations of superbright light-emitting diodes—produce a light that is natural enough to satisfy most incandescent buyers. Compact fluorescents, even in their warmer incarnations, produce spectra with a handful of sharp peaks. The spectrum of a warm-white LED, by contrast, is relatively smooth, much more like that of a glowing filament. LEDs also turn on instantly, with constant brightness, unlike CFLs. What's more, they beat CFLs where CFLs beat incandescents, by lasting even longer and saving you even more on your electricity bill. And, of course, an LED bulb looks much more like a regular lightbulb than does the CFL corkscrew.

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3D-Stacked CMOS Takes Moore’s Law to New Heights

When transistors can’t get any smaller, the only direction is up

10 min read
An image of stacked squares with yellow flat bars through them.
Emily Cooper
Green

Perhaps the most far-reaching technological achievement over the last 50 years has been the steady march toward ever smaller transistors, fitting them more tightly together, and reducing their power consumption. And yet, ever since the two of us started our careers at Intel more than 20 years ago, we’ve been hearing the alarms that the descent into the infinitesimal was about to end. Yet year after year, brilliant new innovations continue to propel the semiconductor industry further.

Along this journey, we engineers had to change the transistor’s architecture as we continued to scale down area and power consumption while boosting performance. The “planar” transistor designs that took us through the last half of the 20th century gave way to 3D fin-shaped devices by the first half of the 2010s. Now, these too have an end date in sight, with a new gate-all-around (GAA) structure rolling into production soon. But we have to look even further ahead because our ability to scale down even this new transistor architecture, which we call RibbonFET, has its limits.

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