Intel's 3-D Tri-Gate technology is surprisingly simple to understand using the "ant" analogy, where ants can be used to demonstrate the flow of electrons.
Traditional 2D planar transistors use "planks", flat two dimensional gates, which means that ants will only walk to and fro on one side of the path.
3-D Tri-Gate is, in Intel's own words, a vertical fin offering three surfaces in all; hence the prefix "Tri". This allows for more ants (or electrons) to travel; in other words, way more electrons can travel due to the increased surface area.
Crucially, rather than leaving the transistors like a bungalow, Intel's engineers have come up with a clever way of adding storeys to the transistors.
The company promises even more performance and energy-efficiency gains simply by increasing the height of the fins to allow more electrons to flow, although that might come with its own set of challenges like controlling the flow of electrons.
The video below explains the significance of this announcement which was billed by Intel as being the most important of the year, even more important than the "tock" of Sandy Bridge.
The first products based on Intel's 3-D Tri-Gate technology will ship early next year and we are likely to witness the formal launch of Ivy Bridge at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January 2012.