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

22nm Process War Begins


Many foundry customers at the 28nm node and above are developing new chips and are exploring the idea of migrating to 16nm/14nm and beyond. But for the most part, those companies are stuck because they can’t afford the soaring IC design costs at advanced nodes. Seeking to satisfy a potential gap in the market, [getentity id="22819" comment="GlobalFoundries"], [getentity id="22846" e_name="... » read more

China: Fab Boom or Bust?


China’s semiconductor industry continues to expand at a frenetic pace. At present there are nearly two dozen new fab projects in China. Whether all these fab projects get off the ground is not entirely clear because the dynamics in China remain fluid. What is clear is the motivation behind this building frenzy—China is trying to reduce its huge trade imbalance in ICs. The country continu... » read more

Mobile Processors Move Beyond Phones


Mobile processors, also known as application processors, are well-known as the engines that run smartphones, tablet computers, and other wireless devices. But these chips increasingly are finding their way into autonomous vehicles, the Internet of Things, unmanned aerial vehicles, virtual reality, and other applications far beyond phone calls and text messages. Moreover, they are gaining in com... » read more

Multi-Patterning Issues At 7nm, 5nm


Continuing to rely on 193nm immersion lithography with multiple patterning is becoming much more difficult at 7nm and 5nm. With the help of various resolution enhancement techniques, optical lithography using a deep ultraviolet excimer laser has been the workhorse patterning technology in the fab since the early 1980s. It is so closely tied with the continuation of [getkc id="74" comment="Mo... » read more

Partitioning For Power


Examine any smartphone design today and most of the electronic circuitry is "off" most of the time. And regardless of how many processor cores are available, it's rare to use more than a couple of those cores at any point in time. The emphasis is shifting, though, as the mobility market flattens and other markets such as driver-assisted vehicles and IoT begin gaining traction. In a car, turn... » read more

Closing The Power Integrity Gap


Voltage drop has always been a significant challenge. As far back as 130nm, specialist tools were being used to ensure that enough local decoupling capacitance (decap) cells were inserted in addition to larger decaps implemented around the SoC. But advanced nodes are complicating matters and further increasing complexity. These technological challenges, which underlie the power, performance ... » read more

Mask Maker Worries Grow


Photomasks are becoming more complex and expensive at each node, thereby creating a number of challenges on several fronts. For one thing, the features on the [getkc id="265" kc_name="photomask"] are becoming smaller and more complex at each node. Second, the number of masks per mask-set are increasing as a result of multiple patterning. Third, it costs more to build and equip a new mask fab... » read more

Stepping Back From Scaling


Architectures, packaging and software are becoming core areas for semiconductor research and development, setting the stage for a series of shifts that will impact a large swath of the semiconductor industry. While there is still demand from the largest chipmakers for increased density at the next process node, the underlying economics for foundries, equipment vendors and IP developers are f... » read more

Addressing Process Variation And Reducing Timing Pessimism At 16nm And Below


At 16nm and below, on-chip variation (OCV) becomes a critically important issue. Increasing process variation makes a larger impact on timing, which becomes more pronounced in low-power designs with ultra-low voltage operating conditions. In this paper, we will discuss how a new methodology involving more accurate library characterization and variation modeling can reduce timing margins in libr... » read more

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