NEC develops smallest transistor

Engineers at NEC have developed the world's smallest transistor with a gate length of five nanometers.

Engineers at NEC have developed the world's smallest transistor with a gate length of five nanometers.

NEC will disclose the development at the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers' (IEEE) International Electron Devices Meeting in Washington, DC.

At five nanometers, that makes the gate of the transistor about one-tenth the size of that possible with today's most advanced mass-production technologies. It also beats the six-nanometer gate length device unveiled a year ago by IBM.

Reducing the size of transistors is crucial to increasing processor performance or memory capacity, because more transistors can be squeezed into each chip, or to make the chip smaller, because smaller transistors require less space. The size reduction also means the transistor requires less power and so runs cooler.

NEC says the transistor is still a long way from being ready for use in production and said it does not anticipate commercial products based on the technology until around 2020.

Martyn Williams writes for IDG News Service


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