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FAST! IBM Develops 100GHz Transistor Device

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 60 comments

This could one day replace silicon to give us... LUDICROUS SPEED!

While the flat out GigaHertz race is no longer a priority, we all still get impressed at high clock frequencies. IBM researchers have demonstrated a radio-frequency graphene transistor with the highest cut-off frequency achieved so far for any graphene device - 100 GHz.

"A key advantage of graphene lies in the very high speeds in which electrons propagate, which is essential for achieving high-speed, high-performance next generation transistors," said Dr. T.C. Chen, vice president, Science and Technology, IBM Research. "The breakthrough we are announcing demonstrates clearly that graphene can be utilized to produce high performance devices and integrated circuits."

Here is the deal on the graphene from IBM:

Graphene is a single atom-thick layer of carbon atoms bonded in a hexagonal honeycomb-like arrangement. This two-dimensional form of carbon has unique electrical, optical, mechanical and thermal properties and its technological applications are being explored intensely.

Uniform and high-quality graphene wafers were synthesized by thermal decomposition of a silicon carbide (SiC) substrate. The graphene transistor itself utilized a metal top-gate architecture and a novel gate insulator stack involving a polymer and a high dielectric constant oxide. The gate length was modest, 240 nanometers, leaving plenty of space for further optimization of its performance by scaling down the gate length.

It is noteworthy that the frequency performance of the graphene device already exceeds the cut-off frequency of state-of-the-art silicon transistors of the same gate length (~ 40 GigaHertz). Similar performance was obtained from devices based on graphene obtained from natural graphite, proving that high performance can be obtained from graphene of different origins. Previously, the team had demonstrated graphene transistors with a cut-off frequency of 26 GigaHertz using graphene flakes extracted from natural graphite.

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  • 26 Hide
    amabhy , February 8, 2010 8:11 PM
    AND YES OF COURSE THIS WILL RUN CRYSIS
  • 12 Hide
    nottheking , February 8, 2010 8:54 PM
    Keep in mind a 100 GHz transistor will NOT make a CPU with a clock speed of 100 GHz. For a single clock cycle, each transistor may have to flip SEVERAL times; there needs to be enough done that each logic gate can at least process a cycle ONCE.

    As the article noted, top-end silicon transistors currently top out at ~40 GHz, which would be about what Intel uses for their sub-4 GHz CPUs... So that means perhaps 10-12 transistor cycles per stock clock cycle.

    Still, this is a very good piece of news; it's STILL 2.5 times faster than the currently-used tech, which means we could see CPUs with it in the 8+ GHz range. Furthermore, the fact is that they're building these out of graphene, a material basically similar to the so-called "nanotubes." (the difference being that graphene is a flat sheet, while nanotubes are fixed in a hollow tube-shape)

    While the current mentioned "size" is listed as 240 nanometers, I'm not sure how that equates to actual process size equivalent, since logic gates tend to be longer than they are wide (they consist of a lot of transistors) and the "feature size" for fabrication processes typically goes on the distance when placed side-by-side. However, since this is basically nanotechnology, there's tons of room to shrink them down in size, potentially into the sub-nanometer range. (the distance between carbon atoms being about 140 picometers, aka 0.14 nm)
  • 12 Hide
    Socnom , February 8, 2010 8:21 PM
    that data means nothing if they do not supply the electrical and thermal requirements
Other Comments
  • 6 Hide
    4trees , February 8, 2010 8:02 PM
    All my wildest dreams will come true.
  • 26 Hide
    amabhy , February 8, 2010 8:11 PM
    AND YES OF COURSE THIS WILL RUN CRYSIS
  • 6 Hide
    nforce4max , February 8, 2010 8:16 PM
    Hmmmm I wonder how long before they have a fully working cpu developed on this new transistor that can run modern X86 code as well power PC code.
  • 12 Hide
    Socnom , February 8, 2010 8:21 PM
    that data means nothing if they do not supply the electrical and thermal requirements
  • -1 Hide
    grillz9909 , February 8, 2010 8:25 PM
    Is the source of graphene (graphite) as cheap as silicon? I'd be glad to have more speed, but if it doubles prices I might have to cry.
  • 7 Hide
    mianmian , February 8, 2010 8:27 PM
    It seems a long way for it to reach our life yet.
  • 8 Hide
    JonathanDeane , February 8, 2010 8:28 PM
    grillz9909Is the source of graphene (graphite) as cheap as silicon? I'd be glad to have more speed, but if it doubles prices I might have to cry.


    Well how much does pencil lead cost? Its pretty cheap stuff. Although I would hazard a guess that the first few batches of CPU's would cost much much more then your Core i7.... Honestly this is exciting and will allow for whole new kinds of software to be developed! The things that take hours to do now would take seconds...
  • 4 Hide
    Shadow703793 , February 8, 2010 8:31 PM
    Pffff..... only 100Ghz????
    Why not 500Ghz?
    See: http://www.tomshardware.com/news/ibm-500ghz-chip,2992.html
    (And yes, it's IBM again)
  • 4 Hide
    shadow187 , February 8, 2010 8:32 PM
    Will it ru-

    DAMNIT AMABHY.
  • 4 Hide
    back_by_demand , February 8, 2010 8:36 PM
    OMFG!!!!

    I just read the other IBM article about the Power 7's

    8 core's, 32 threads, now just imagine if you could combine the above 100Ghz into a package like that.
    Want to encode the extended edition of Return Of The King in 4 seconds?
    No problem.
    Want to open 1000 photo's from a 20MP camera in CS3?
    No problem.
    Want to run 10 separate instances of Crysis at 2560 x 1600?
    No problem.

    OK, we aren't there yet, but the future is looking very bright.
  • 3 Hide
    shadow187 , February 8, 2010 8:37 PM
    Shadow703793Pffff..... only 100Ghz????Why not 500Ghz?See: http://www.tomshardware.com/news/i [...] ,2992.html(And yes, it's IBM again)

    Nice find.
  • -9 Hide
    fonzy , February 8, 2010 8:43 PM
    But will it run Crysis 2?
  • 5 Hide
    audioee , February 8, 2010 8:52 PM
    Forget about "LUDICROUS SPEED", when do we get Plaid speed devices?
  • 12 Hide
    nottheking , February 8, 2010 8:54 PM
    Keep in mind a 100 GHz transistor will NOT make a CPU with a clock speed of 100 GHz. For a single clock cycle, each transistor may have to flip SEVERAL times; there needs to be enough done that each logic gate can at least process a cycle ONCE.

    As the article noted, top-end silicon transistors currently top out at ~40 GHz, which would be about what Intel uses for their sub-4 GHz CPUs... So that means perhaps 10-12 transistor cycles per stock clock cycle.

    Still, this is a very good piece of news; it's STILL 2.5 times faster than the currently-used tech, which means we could see CPUs with it in the 8+ GHz range. Furthermore, the fact is that they're building these out of graphene, a material basically similar to the so-called "nanotubes." (the difference being that graphene is a flat sheet, while nanotubes are fixed in a hollow tube-shape)

    While the current mentioned "size" is listed as 240 nanometers, I'm not sure how that equates to actual process size equivalent, since logic gates tend to be longer than they are wide (they consist of a lot of transistors) and the "feature size" for fabrication processes typically goes on the distance when placed side-by-side. However, since this is basically nanotechnology, there's tons of room to shrink them down in size, potentially into the sub-nanometer range. (the distance between carbon atoms being about 140 picometers, aka 0.14 nm)
  • 4 Hide
    Shadow703793 , February 8, 2010 9:12 PM
    back_by_demandWant to run 10 separate instances of Crysis at 2560 x 1600?No problem.OK, we aren't there yet, but the future is looking very bright.

    One problem: Crysis is for Windows only and the CPU is most likely to be PPC.
  • -3 Hide
    mlopinto2k1 , February 8, 2010 9:13 PM
    HeadlineThis could one day replace silicon to give us... LUDICROUS SPEED!
    Quake
  • 1 Hide
    mlopinto2k1 , February 8, 2010 9:16 PM
    4treesAll my wildest dreams will come true.

    When your 60!
  • 9 Hide
    tipoo , February 8, 2010 9:51 PM
    amabhyAND YES OF COURSE THIS WILL RUN CRYSIS



    No, a single transistor will not run anything. A few million of them together might be able to.
  • -2 Hide
    njkid3 , February 8, 2010 9:54 PM
    well with this achievement we are 1/100 of the way to terahertz speed on a single chip.
  • 0 Hide
    buwish , February 8, 2010 9:59 PM
    Impressive. It's good to know some worthwhile work is being done to advance clock speeds, at least in terms of the future.
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