Intel might have placed itself three years ahead of AMD after redesigning the transistor. Yesterday Intel announced that it was bringing in 3D transistors which will let them design smaller and more powerful processors.
Tri-gate designs use a 22-nanometre process with a "fin" jutting up from the base. Chips using them will go into production this year and appear in computers in 2012 in processors codenamed "Ivy Bridge". The new designs will also use less power. A dual-core chip with 22nm tri-gate transistors would use the same power as an existing 32nm chip. The move could get Intel into smartphones and tablet computers, which is dominated by low powered designs from ARM.
Intel said that its new chips would be "extremely competitive" with ARM on power consumption. It has not provided any figures or a date when the chips would appear in smartphones. Intel has been talking about 3D transistors for nearly a decade. No-one has been able to make them in any numbers. However analysts called it one of the most significant shifts in silicon transistor design since the integrated circuit was invented in the 1950s. The belief is that it the design should allow it to advance at least a generation ahead of its rivals.