AMD Using Strained Silicon in Processors

AMD are now using strained silicon in their processors to improve performance. The technology has been incorporated into the company’s new 90nm chips and will soon find its way into the company’s 130nm products later this year.

Strained silicon is made when the metal’s atoms are pulled apart to increase the space between them. I suppose the scientists’ naming department had the day off when that was invented. The increase in atomic space means that the electrons carrying the signals through the silicon can move faster.

IBM and Intel already use a form of strained silicon in their chips, but AMD say that their technique is different. There have been recent developments in silicon straining, and the most recent development in this field is uniaxial strained silicon, where it has only been stretched in one direction. Perhaps AMD are using this technique.


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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?