Intel’s new 3-D transistor features vertical fins (pictured)

Intel has redesigned the basic microprocessor, claiming a new three-dimensional transistor will boost performance and lower power consumption.

The new transistors are particularly well suited for small handheld devices, the California-based chipmaker said.

Intel said its new 3-D Tri-Gate transistors will be implemented in its upcoming manufaturing process, which is called the 22nm node.

The company this week demonstrated the first 22nm microprocessor, codenamed Ivy Bridge, in a laptop, server and desktop computer. Ivy Bridge is slated for high-volume production readiness by the end of this year, Intel said.

"Amazing, world-shaping devices will be created from this capability," Intel CEO Paul Otellini said in a press release.

Intel's 3-D Tri-Gate transistors enable chips to operate at lower voltage with lower leakage, the company said, citing unprecedented performance and efficiency improvements. The enhanced capabilities, will give chip designers the flexibility to choose transistors targeted for low power or high performance, depending on the application.

The company said the 22nm 3-D Tri-Gate transistors provide up to 37 percent more performance at low voltage than Intel's 32nm planar transistors.

In the new transistor, the traditional "flat" two-dimensional planar gate is replaced with an ultra-thin three-dimensional silicon fin that rises up vertically from the silicon substrate. Intel said control of current is accomplished by implementing a gate on each of the three sides of the fin ”“ two on each side and one across the top -- rather than just one on top, as is the case with the 2-D planar transistor.

The additional control enables as much transistor current flowing as possible when the transistor is in the "on" state (for performance), and as close to zero as possible when it is in the "off" state (to minimize power), and enables the transistor to switch very quickly between the two states (again, for performance).