When Intel said that they had a major, groundbreaking announcement to make on Wednesday, we were betting on the assumption that the chip giant had magically come up with new processor designs that will eventually translate to better performance for enthusiasts. As it turns out, we were not entirely wrong after all; Intel's 'groundbreaking announcement' did in fact center around silicon transistor technology. Apparently, the chip giant has managed to find a way to produce 3D transistors for its processors, and Ivy Bridge will be the first set of chips to make use of the new 3D Tri-Gate transistors.
Not too long ago, Intel promised to deliver a "most significant technology announcement of the year" during a press event that was to be held on Wednesday (yesterday). Needless to say, this has gotten many speculating about what the "most significant technology announcement" would be, although many were betting on Intel releasing details about some unprecedented breakthrough in its development of Ivy Bridge.
As it turns out, they were not exactly wrong either. Indeed, Intel's announcement was indeed directly related to Ivy Bridge, although it was on a much lower level than what most would have expected it to be. Apparently, Intel has successfully managed to perfect its 3D transistor technology known as Tri-Gate for high-volume production, and this technology will be incorporated into Ivy Bridge, as well as future versions of the Atom processor.
According to Intel's press release, Tri-Gate "represent(s) a fundamental departure from the two-dimensional planar transistor structure" as most processors were fabricated with 2D transistors prior to Intel's perfection of Tri-Gate. By utilizing a 3D transistor design for its processors, Intel claims that the company is now in the position to extend Moore's Law for the forseeable future, as the laws of physics would have made any development on the 22nm die shrink of Sandy Bridge impossible without a complete redesign due to physical limitations.
In addition to allowing Intel to proceed with its development on the 22nm process, the chip giant is also claiming that the 3D Tri-Gate transistors will allow its chips to achieve "unprecedented power savings and performance gains". This is reportedly due to the transistors' design allowing for operating at "lower voltage(s) with lower leakage". By Intel's own estimations, Tri-Gate transistors provide up to 37% more performance than the conventional transistor designs used in its 32nm process, but consume less than half the power.