In this work a quasi-analytical physical model has been developed for the prediction of the potential in SiNW devices with arbitrary polygonal cross section. The model is then extended to the transport direction; a method for the calculation of the natural channel length has been proposed and validated by means of 2D and 3D numerical device simulations. With the results based on the proposed model it is possible to compare nanowires with cross sections of different shape and predict the minimum technological gate length able to assure immunity to the SCEs. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.