Race Of Nations


Technology is the next arms race, and this is not just about national defense in the traditional sense. Countries collectively are pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into developing technology for the future, from education to outright grants and seed funding, and they are working with private industry to continue investing in their respective national futures. Which technologies and na... » read more

The Future Of FinFETs


The number of questions about finFETs is increasing—particularly, how long can they continue to be used before some version of gate-all-around FET is required to replace them. This discussion is confusing in many respects. For one thing, a 7nm finFET for TSMC or Samsung is not the same as a 7nm finFET for Intel or GlobalFoundries. There are a bunch of other nodes being proposed, as well, i... » read more

Silicon’s Long Game


The era of all-silicon substrates and copper wires may be coming to an end. Progress in the future increasingly depends on more exotic combinations of materials that are developed for specific applications. But after years of predicting the death of silicon, it appears those predictions may be premature. That's not always obvious, given the growing number of chemical combinations being creat... » read more

Automotive Foundries


The race to win a piece of the automotive electronics business has now reached the foundry level, and right now it's not clear exactly how this is going to work. This is uncharted territory for everyone. The build-out of electronics for assisted and autonomous driving is brand new. For existing cars, most of the chips being used are off-the-shelf microcontrollers, commodity MEMS sensors, and... » read more

The Great Skills Race


The next phase of the technology race will be fought with qualified people—but not necessarily the same people in the same markets or with the same skill sets. For the past half century, technology wars have been won and lost with inexpensive labor and increasing amounts of automation. This can be traced from the United States in the 1960s to Japan in the 1970s, Korea starting in the mid-... » read more

The Materials Gap


When consolidation thinned the ranks of semiconductor foundries and equipment makers, materials companies figured things were about to get better. They haven't. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, semiconductors are now so complex and difficult to develop that a slew of innovations are required on all sides. Everyone is familiar with transistor structures, interconnects and lithog... » read more

Machine Learning In The Fab


Machine learning is exploding, especially where there are massive amounts of data to contend with and lots of potential interactions. This leads to two obvious insertion points in the semiconductor field. One is on the design side, where just getting an advanced design to function is an enormous challenge. That challenge increases as the need for reliability in some market increases. It's d... » read more

Can A Supply Chain Be Too Efficient?


The semiconductor industry is a model of efficiency—literally. When other industries look at adding smart manufacturing into their operations, they often look to chip manufacturing as a shining example. After decades of business gyrations, semiconductor companies have figured out how to instill efficiency into every aspect of making chips. This is evident in device scaling. At 90nm, the co... » read more

Architecture First, Node Second


What a difference a node makes. A couple of rather important changes have occurred in the move from 16/14 to 10/7nm (aside from more confusing naming conventions). First, companies that require more transistors—processor companies such as [getentity id="22846" e_name="Intel"], AMD, [getentity id="22306" comment="IBM"] and [getentity id="22676" e_name="Qualcomm"]—have come to grips with t... » read more

High-Stakes Litho Game


The commercial introduction of EUV looks all but assured these days. There is enough history to show it works. Uptime and throughput are improving, and systems are shipping today. The question now is how to measure its success. In the short-term, this is a fairly simple financial exercise for companies like ASML and Zeiss, which have been closely collaborating to get these massive systems ou... » read more

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