Advanced Packaging Requires Better Yield


Whether Moore's Laws truly ends, or whether the semiconductor industry reaches into the Angstrom world after 3nm—the semiconductor industry dislikes fractions—advanced packaging increasingly will dominate semiconductor designs. Apple already is on board with its iPhone 7, using TSMC's fan-out approach. And all of the major foundries and OSATs are lining up with a long list of capabilitie... » read more

How Many Nanometers?


What’s the difference between a 10nm and a 7nm chip? That should be a straightforward question. Math, after all, is the only pure science. But as it turns out, the answer is hardly science—even if it is all about numbers. Put in perspective, at 65nm, companies defined the process node by the half pitch of the first metal layer. At 40/45nm, with the cost and difficulty of developing n... » read more

450mm And Other Emergency Measures


Talk about boosting wafer sizes from 300mm to 450mm has been creeping back into presentations and discussions at conferences over the past couple months. Earlier this year, discussions focused on panel-level packaging. These are basically similar approaches to the same problem, which is that wafers need to be larger to reap efficiencies out of device scaling. Whether either of these approach... » read more

Changing Economics In Chip Manufacturing


The foundry and equipment businesses are poised for significant changes that could affect the balance of power far beyond just the semiconductor manufacturing sector. It’s no secret that the number of companies developing new chips at 7nm is shrinking. There will be even fewer at 5nm. The business case for moving forward is that density must provide a competitive edge. But that density imp... » read more

Roots Of Distrust Spread


For most of the history of semiconductors there has been a persistent fear that someone would steal intellectual property from one company and sell it to another. There have been innumerable lawsuits involving corporate secrets that cross from one company to the next, and from one country to the next. The biggest concerns always were at the leading edges of technology, where those secrets w... » read more

The Road To 5nm


There is strong likelihood that enough companies will move to 7nm to warrant the investment. How many will move forward to 5nm is far less certain. Part of the reason for this uncertainty is big-company consolidation. There are simply fewer customers left who can afford to build chips at the most advanced nodes. Intel bought Altera. Avago bought Broadcom. NXP bought Freescale. GlobalFoundrie... » read more

The Other Side Of Device Scaling


The push to 10nm and 7nm is a relatively straightforward path in PowerPoint. In multiple presentations across the semiconductor industry, in fact, it has been portrayed as a straight line progression spanning decades. While most chipmakers are aware that the cost per transistor has been increasing below 22nm, due to double patterning and the challenges in designing finFETs and dealing with d... » read more

The Big Race


An estimated 74.39 million automobiles are forecast to be sold this year, according to Statista. That's up about 2.8% over 2015, which on the surface doesn't look like fabulous growth. What isn't apparent in the numbers, though, is the amount and type of semiconductor content. Electronic control units, which are primarily driven by MCUs, increasingly are being replaced by SoCs. Automotive co... » read more

Timing Is Everything


It's easy to look back on companies or products that missed the market because they were too early. Remember the Eo? The brick-like personal digital assistant that AT&T introduced in 1993 had an antenna that hinted at 4G connectivity. Unfortunately, there was no 4G available at the time, so it was just an extra wire. (Check out the video of the tablet version here.) The EO 440 Personal... » read more

The Big Shift


The number of chipmakers that truly can differentiate their products by moving to the next process node is falling, and that pool will continue to shrink even further over the next few years. Processor companies such as Intel and IBM always will benefit from scaling and architectural changes. So will GPU companies such as Nvidia, and FPGA vendors such as Xilinx, Microsemi and Altera (now par... » read more

← Older posts