Ivy Bridge

Intel's new 3-D chips: A new level in the mobile fight

May 5, 2011: 11:36 AM ET

The formidable company has been behind the curve in mobile. Can a new way of building chips make it newly attractive to mobile device makers?

FORTUNE -- Intel processors are found in about 80% of the world's computers. But the company lags behind in mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, where chips licensed by rival ARM Holdings (ARMH) rule.

That may soon change, if Intel (INTC) can get a promising new technology onto mobile chips fast enough.

On Wednesday in San Francisco, the company unveiled an innovative production technology that it says will allow it to cram more transistors onto microchips for years to come. The "major technical breakthrough" is a 22nm microprocessor codenamed Ivy Bridge, which will be the first high-volume chip to use 3-D transistors. (For more on the technology behind 3-D transistors, check out Intel's illuminating video below).

"Intel's scientists and engineers have once again reinvented the transistor, this time utilizing the third dimension," Intel CEO Paul Otellini said in a press release. "Amazing, world-shaping devices will be created from this capability as we advance Moore's Law into new realms." More

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