The world’s biggest chipmaker said on Wednesday that it would begin producing chips this year using a revolutionary 3D technology that has been nearly a decade in the making, and which it said would act as the foundation for generations of computing advances to come.
Microchip transistors, the building blocks of electronics, have to date been produced in flat structures – akin to printing on a sheet of paper. Intel’s breakthrough involves producing more complex three dimensional transistors on chips.
The new technology is one of Intel’s biggest gambles in the race to maintain and even extend its long-standing lead over other chipmakers in making components smaller and faster, while breathing fresh life into the remorseless cycle of chip improvements on which the modern computing and electronics industries are founded.
The impact of Intel’s attempt to push ahead of the rest of the industry was felt more widely on Wednesday, as Applied Materials, which supplies Intel with manufacturing equipment, announced a $4.9bn acquisition to keep up with the new technology.