IBM, Samsung Tout New Vertical Transistor for Future Computer Chips

The companies announce a new ‘VTFET’ transistor design to help sustain Moore’s Law for years to come.By Michael KanDecember 14, 2021(IBM)

To take chip designs to the next level, IBM and Samsung are researching how to build semiconductor transistors vertically to free up more space on the silicon. 

The research has led the companies to create VTFET, a new kind of transistor that can be more densely packed onto a computer chip compared to a FinFET transistor.  

“At these advanced nodes, VTFET could be used to provide two times the performance or up to 85% reduction in energy use compared to the scaled finFET alternative,” IBM said in an announcement on Tuesday.

The idea to build out transistors vertically is nothing new. This past weekend, Intel announced its own research efforts on stacking transistor parts on top of each other to reduce their footprint.

However, the research from IBM and Samsung has advanced to the point that the VTFET transistors can be manufactured on test chips. The same transistors might also help sustain Moore’s Law, the observation that the number of transistors on new computer chips doubles about every two years.FinFET versus VTFET(IBM)

VTFET stands for Vertical-Transport Nanosheet Field Effect Transistor, and it works by laying the transistor parts perpendicular to the silicon wafer. In contrast, a FinFET transistor will arrange certain parts laterally, which can take up more space. “With the most advanced finFET technologies, there’s only so much room for spacers, gates, and contacts,” IBM added. 

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