Intel combined high-dielectric ceramics and metallic materials to build the insulating walls and switching gates of 45-nanometer transistors. Transistors are microcontrollers that handle the ones and zeros of the digital world. The gate turns the transistor on and off, and the gate dielectric is below it an insulator that separates it from the channel through which current flows.
Hundreds of millions of these micro-transistors or switches are used inside today's multi-core processors, greatly speeding up the speed of current PC, laptop and server processors. By replacing conventional dielectric materials with thicker hafnium-based oxide materials, transistor gate leakage is reduced by more than 10 times, and transistors can be made smaller, thereby increasing transistor density by approximately two times.
When hafnium ceramic is combined with a compatible metal gate, the drive current increases by more than 20%, and the source-drain leakage is reduced by more than five times, thereby improving the energy efficiency of the transistor. The smaller transistor size means that the active switching power is reduced by about 30%.