How Much Can Intel's 3-D Transistor Change Medical Device Design?

It's not every day that a company completely changes the course of manufacturing technology. Intel Corp. may be doing just with its announcement of a significant breakthrough in the evolution of the transistor.

Intel is introducing a 3-D transistor design called Tri-Gate into high-volume manufacturing at the 22-nm node in an Intel chip codenamed "Ivy Bridge." According to the company press release, the 22 nm 3-D Tri-Gate transistors provide up to 37% performance increase at low voltage versus Intel's 32 nm planar transistors. They enable switching with less power consumption. In addition, the new transistors consume less than half the power when at the same performance as 2-D planar transistors on 32 nm chips.

The Tri-Gate transistors represent a fundamental departure from the 2-D planar transistor structure, says the company. Learn more, and get access to a video at medtechinsider.

What affect this technology will have in the medical space is unknown and likely far down the road, given the pace at which medical device design moves to catch up to consumer technology. Even the consumer space may take its time adopting the transistors. Dean McCarron, an analyst with Mercury Research told PC Mag that the transistor model is "essentially an evolutionary argument," and one that Intel picked after evaluating other approaches.

"I think it's an evolution of the manufacturing process but a little bit more significant than we've seen in the past," McCarron said.

Can you see any immediate applications? What changes will have to be made for the transistor to fit into device design?

—Heather Thompson