FAST! IBM Develops 100GHz Transistor Device

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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  • amabhy
  • Socnom
    that data means nothing if they do not supply the electrical and thermal requirements
  • nottheking
    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)
  • Other Comments
  • 4trees
    All my wildest dreams will come true.
  • amabhy
  • nforce4max
    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.