Freescale announces double-gate transistor model

Austin (TX) - Freescale and the University of Florida developed the industry's first double-gate transistor model that is believed to enable smaller and more powerful silicon products while consuming less power than today's single-gate transistors.

Freescale's double-gate idea is not completely new, as other firms such as AMD, Intel and IBM announced similar approaches over the past five six years. However, Freescale is the first company to have implemented a double-gate model in a simulator that allows access to multiple independent gates to control a channel. Also, Freescale appears to be the first firm to offer the technology for licensing.

"Double-gate transistors are becoming a serious candidate for the 45-nm technology node," said Freescale's Chief Technology Officer Dr. Claudine Simson. "The software model developed with the University of Florida moves it one step closer to commercialization. This technology could enable customer applications such as smaller, lighter portable devices with longer battery life, as well as faster computing devices that can handle growing graphic, video, voice and data processing requirements."

The double-gate transistors are based on fin field effect transistor technology (FinFET). Compared to common transistors, FinFETs integrate a thin silicon piece, named "fin", to reduce current leakage when a transistor is in switched off. Most semiconductor companies today believe than FinFETs are the most promising recipe to increase computational power while reducing power consumption at the same time.

Double gates are expected to become a new breed of transistor technology that allows engineers to squeeze even more transistors in circuit spaces: For example, AMD already estimated back in 2002 that double-gates will lead the way to more than one billion transistors on a mainstream processor.

"For the first time, the worlds of silicon technology and circuit design for the new breed of transistors have been successfully bridged," said Jerry Fossum, professor at the University of Florida. "We've been in collaboration with Freescale on the new technologies for five years and we hope that this breakthrough and expanded collaboration will open doors to new discoveries within them."

According to Freescale, the announced double-gate technology will offer about 30 percent more performance in digital CMOS applications down to an 18 nm technology node. The company believes that Wi-Fi chips, FPGA architectures, microprocessors, DRAM and RF mixers in cellphones will be the first products that can take advantage of the technology.