Terminology Beyond von Neumann


Neural networks. Neuromorphic computing. Non-von Neumann architectures. As I’ve been researching my series on neuromorphic computing, I’ve encountered a lot of new terminology. It hasn’t always been easy to figure out exactly what’s being discussed. This explainer attempts to both clarify the terms used in my own articles and to help others sort through the rapidly growing literature in... » read more

Ruthenium Liners Give Way To Ruthenium Lines


For several years now, integrated circuit manufacturers have been investigating alternative barrier layer materials for copper interconnects. As interconnect dimensions shrink, the barrier accounts for an increasing fraction of the total line volume. As previously reported, both cobalt and ruthenium have drawn substantial interest because they can serve as both barrier and seed layers, minimizi... » read more

Planes, Birdhouses And Image Recognition


My recent blog post on the limits of neuromorphic computing took an optimistic view: even neuromorphic systems that are relatively crude by the standards of biological brains can still find commercially important applications. A few days after I finished it, I was reminded that the pessimists are not wrong when a friend of mine shared this image. Fig. 1: Trover Gourds in purple martin nest... » read more

Pessimism, Optimism And Neuromorphic Computing


As I’ve been researching this series on neuromorphic computing, I’ve learned that there are two views of the field. One, which I’ll call the “optimist” view, often held by computer scientists and electrical engineers, focuses on the possibilities: self-driving cars. Homes that can learn their owners’ needs. Automated medical assistants. The other, the “pessimist” view, often hel... » read more

The Other Side Of H1-B Visas


There is a lot of discussion these days about “Hire American.” But what does that actually mean in practice? I’m at the Materials Research Society Spring Meeting this week, where one of the presentations was by a scientist who works at the TEL Technology Center, America, in Albany, NY. It’s the largest Tokyo Electron research center outside of Japan. It’s affiliated with the SUNY P... » read more

TFETs And/Or MOSFETs For Low-Power Design


As discussed in Reducing Subthreshold Swing With TFETs, papers at December’s IEEE Electron Device Meeting examined a variety of potential designs for tunneling transistors (TFETs). That focus continued at the recent CS International Conference. In particular, Nadine Collaert discussed IMEC’s work on InGaAs homo-junction devices. Many compound semiconductor devices depend on heterojunctio... » read more

The Limits Of The Lifecycle


In the first article in my series on sustainability, I cited one estimate that attributed most of the electricity consumed by an integrated circuit to manufacturing, not use. Other analyses, however, come to exactly the opposite conclusion, with above 90% of lifetime energy consumption accounted for by the use phase. How can that be? The glib answer is that industry efforts to build more eff... » read more

Think Globally, Act Globally


For the last several months, I’ve been working on a series of articles about sustainable manufacturing in the semiconductor industry. How can we, as an industry, reduce our environmental footprint? It’s a big topic, and it’s been challenging to find concrete examples of ways fabs can reduce power consumption, water consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions. I’ll address these topics in ... » read more

EUV Resists Move Forward


Improvements in EUV exposure sources and exposure tools are shifting the industry’s focus to other components of the lithography process. As noted last year, one of the key areas is photoresists. But advanced photoresists face significant challenges, due to the need to balance sensitivity, etch selectivity, and resolution. This year’s SPIE Advanced Lithography conference featured promis... » read more

Coming To A Fab Near You?


What do Quentin Tarantino and ASML have in common? Anamorphic lenses. The optical image created by an anamorphic lens is oval, rather than round, with different magnifications along the horizontal and vertical axes. Tarantino used 65mm anamorphic lenses to film The Hateful Eight, and some theaters are also using them to screen the movie. It’s the first fiction feature to use this format s... » read more

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