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What is 12 nm Processor?
A 12 nm processor refers to the technology in which the chip is manufactured. Technically, it defines the size of the semiconductor where one nm or nanometer measures one-billionth of a meter.
- The transistors are close to each other in a 12 nm processor which reduces energy loss while transferring electrons.
- The compact design of the 12 nm FinFET Compact Technology helps in driving more gate density which enhances its speed and performance and reduces its energy consumption.
- Since the core or transistors are very close to each other such chips may cause an adverse effect called Quantum Tunneling.
Understanding 12 nm Processor
A processor that is designed and manufactured by using a technology that the manufacturers call a ‘12 nm process’ are called the 12 nm processors.
However, you should note that there is also no universal norm to determine the nanometer values.
Different manufacturers calculate the nanometer values of their processors in a different way.
This means that what is a 10 nm TSMC may not be equal to a 10 nm processor of Samsung or Intel.
Since this nanometer value differs from one processor manufacturing company to the other, the nm in the processor these days has just become a marketing number.
It is believed that the 12 nm processors are much faster and more efficient than the 14 nm processors.
However, please take note that the term ’12 nm’ has really nothing to do with the physical measurement of the chip manufactured as such.
As said earlier, this is purely a marketing number and is conceived by the marketing people of GlobalFoundries.
In fact, if you consider the 12 nm processors of the GlobalFoundries you will see that a Contacted Gate Pitch or CPP of 78 nm and a Minimum Metal Pitch or MMP of 64 nm is used.
These, surprisingly, are the exact measurements of the 14 nm processors of the same manufacturer.
Ideally, whether it is 10 nm or 12 nm, it actually signifies the space available between each transistor.
These transistors act as the switches that are required to be turned off and turned on in order to send any data or information.
Remember, a computer only understands a binary language, that is 1 for ON and 0 for OFF. This is the working process of the processors.
This means that, the more the number of processors, the more information the processor can send at any given point in time.
According to Moore’s law, the number of transistors is supposed to increase in a microchip exponentially as the capability and speed of the computers are expected to double after every two years.
Hence, the processor manufacturing technology, or the lithography, or the fabrication process changes over time only to become better, faster, and more efficient.
It is for this specific reason, the density of transistors in a given area increases in the processors with newer and better CPU manufacturing technologies coming up.
This not only improves the speed and performance of the processors but also produces several other benefits, as discussed in a later section in this article.
The smaller size allows placing the transistors closer to each other.
Therefore, in a 12 nm processor, the energy loss during transportation or excessive excitation of the electron is less which makes it even more powerful and efficient.
However, this holds true till the time the Quantum Tunneling effect does not take over due to excessive shrinking in the size of the processors.
Therefore, at this point, you may quite naturally wonder whether or not the 12 nm processors are better in comparison to the 14 nm processors.
Well, in terms of lower power consumption and higher clock speeds, the 12 nm processors really are.
However, you must also take note at this point that it is only the faster clock frequency that helps the 12 nm processors to perform better.
It is only due to such developments, and more that are yet to occur in the future, that laptops, smartphones, gaming consoles and other electronic devices can perform so well today.
The 12 nm processors are more advanced than the 14 nm processors and therefore are faster, smaller, and more efficient.
This new product from TSMC or the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited is extensively used by the MediaTek Helio P30 family of products.
These types of processors are also used in a few desktop and laptop computer models, though there aren’t many of them available as of now.
Also, there are also several models of mobile phones available from some of the best mobile phone manufacturers in which a 12 nm processor is used such as a few specific models from Realme Nazro, Xiaomi Redmi Note, Oppo, Vivo, Samsung Galaxy and more.
Due to its low power consumption and faster performance, this next generation processor is also used in the field that needs high-end computing such as consumer applications, network communication, and in the automotive industry for electronic applications.
The 12 nm processors are more compact due to the 12 nm FinFET Compact Technology or 12 FFC.
The most significant benefit of this smaller design is that it can drive the maximum amount of gate density.
This, in turn, helps in offering the best performance.
Add to that, as compared with most of the other nm technologies, the 12 nm technology offers almost 50% more speed and consumes about 60% less power during operating.
Some other benefits offered by the 12 nm technology are much similar to those offered by any other processor with lower nanometer lithography. Some of them are as follows:
The transistors are much faster than the larger nm processors.
This is because the distance between the drain and source of the transistor is less.
Therefore, the electrons travel a smaller distance and therefore these are more efficient electrically.
The transistors also consume less power while operating as said earlier because it is easier for the transistor to switch on and switch off.
Since these smaller transistors consume less power, the heat generated by the CPU will also be less.
Since the heat dissipated will be less by the smaller processors, less cooling will be required.
Any standard cooling system will be adequately efficient to keep the operating temperature of the processor down.
The higher amount of density can be achieved easily since the size and distance between the transistors is smaller.
Since there will be more space for each chip, there will be more core for each CPU.
Therefore, the smaller the nanometer of the processor is, the better it is in terms of performance, power, and area.
However, it is not very easy to manufacture processors with smaller nanometers. There are a few significant challenges that the manufacturers typically face.
One of the most significant hurdles is the smaller size of the processor itself.
Due to the small size, the processor sits very close to each other.
In such situations there is the risk of the process called Quantum Tunneling coming into effect.
The most significant problem it will create is that the transistor will not be shut off easily.
The fundamental process used in this technology is called photolithography, which is itself a significant issue that the manufacturers face and need to overcome.
The wavelength of this light source is usually 193 nanometers. Well, that is not the real issue. It lies somewhere else.
Now a new technology is used which is called the EUV Lithography or Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography.
The wavelength of this light source is 13.5 nm.
However, the challenge that this new technology offers to the processor designers is that the EUV rays help in advanced chip scaling.
So that is all about the 12 nm processors.
You will not get too many devices as of now with such processors but the rate at which the processor technology is evolving over time this technology may soon become the norm, only to be eclipsed by something better in near future.