AMD has begun to incorporate a form of strained silicon into 90nm chips shipping currently, a design twist that will let the company increase the performance of its processors. Although AMD is not divulging many details about its strained silicon, the company’s technology differs from the way IBM and Intel incorporate it. AMD is more localized but other AMD executives and researchers have described localized straining as a process in which only certain parts of a chip are affected. AMD intentionally incorporated new layers in chips to achieve straining. AMD, Intel and IBM are all working on another major design change for chips: swapping the silicon in the transistor gate–the on-off switch that controls the flow of electrons inside the transistor–for metal. Processors with metal gate transistors are expected to arrive with the 45-nanometer manufacturing process, which comes out in 2007, or slightly earlier.

AMD has begun to incorporate a form of strained silicon into 90nm chips shipping currently, a design twist that will let the company increase the performance of its processors. Although AMD is not divulging many details about its strained silicon, the company’s technology differs from the way IBM and Intel incorporate it. AMD is more localized but other AMD executives and researchers have described localized straining as a process in which only certain parts of a chip are affected. AMD intentionally incorporated new layers in chips to achieve straining. AMD, Intel and IBM are all working on another major design change for chips: swapping the silicon in the transistor gate–the on-off switch that controls the flow of electrons inside the transistor–for metal. Processors with metal gate transistors are expected to arrive with the 45-nanometer manufacturing process, which comes out in 2007, or slightly earlier.