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IBM speeds up transistor for wireless chips

IBM scientists have developed a transistor that can run at 350GHz, nearly three times faster than any transistor available.

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IBM scientists have developed a transistor that can run at 350GHz, nearly three times faster than any transistor available.

The transistor should become part of wireless communications chips running at about 150GHz in about two years and promises better Internet connectivity and lower power consumption, according to IBM.

Microchips typically hold millions of transistors. The speed of transistors is determined by how fast electrons pass through them, which in turn is dependent on the material used and the distance the electrons must travel.

For its 350GHz transistor, IBM used its silicon germanium, or SiGe, bipolar technology. In bipolar transistors electrons travel vertically, as opposed to horizontally in standard complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) transistors. IBM reduced the height of the transistors to shorten the path for the electrons.

Germanium added to silicon speeds the electrical flow, improves performance and reduces power consumption, IBM said.

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