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

Creating An Accurate FEOL CMP Model

By Ruben Ghulghazaryan, Jeff Wilson, and Ahmed AbouZeid For decades, semiconductor manufacturers have used chemical-mechanical polishing (CMP) as the primary technique for the smoothing and leveling (planarization) of dielectrics and metal layers. CMP modeling allows  design and manufacturing teams to find and fix potential planarization issues before the actual CMP process is applied to a ... » read more

FinFET Front-End-of-Line (FEOL) Process Integration With SEMulator3D

Purely geometric scaling of transistors ended around the 90-nanometer (nm) era. Since then, most power/performance and area/cost improvements have come from structural and material innovations. Silicon-on-Insulator (SOI), first “partially depleted” and more recently “fully depleted” as well as embedded stressors, High-K / Metal-Gate (HKMG) and now FinFETs are examples of technology inno... » read more

Interconnect Challenges Rising

Chipmakers are ramping up their 14nm finFET processes, with 10nm and 7nm slated to ship possibly later this year or next. At 10nm and beyond, IC vendors are determined to scale the two main parts of the [getkc id="185" kc_name="finFET"] structure—the transistor and interconnects. Generally, transistor scaling will remain challenging at advanced nodes. And on top of that, the interconnects ... » read more

Next Challenge: Contact Resistance

In chip scaling, there is no shortage of challenges. Scaling the finFET transistor and the interconnects are the biggest challenges for current and future devices. But now, there is another part of the device that’s becoming an issue—the contact. Typically, the contact doesn’t get that much attention, but the industry is beginning to worry about the resistance in the contacts, or conta... » read more

Interconnect Challenges Grow

It’s becoming apparent that traditional chip scaling is slowing down. The 16nm/14nm logic node took longer than expected to unfold. And the 10nm node and beyond could suffer the same fate. So what’s the main cause? It’s hard to pinpoint the problem, although many blame the issues on lithography. But what could eventually hold up the scaling train, and undo Moore’s Law, is arguably t... » read more

The Fill Ecosystem Evolves Again

Several years ago, we wrote about the ecosystem of fill, and how 20nm technology required a much tighter relationship between the foundry, designers and EDA vendors. While the players remain the same, there have been some interesting shifts in fill techniques and usage as designers move to even-smaller technologies. What continues with each node is the additional complexity of the design flo... » read more

Will 7nm And 5nm Really Happen?

Today’s silicon-based finFETs could run out of steam at 10nm. If or when chipmakers move beyond 10nm, IC vendors will require a new transistor architecture. III-V finFETs, gate-all-around FETs, quantum well finFETs, SOI finFETs and vertical nanowires are just a few of the future transistor candidates at 7nm and 5nm. Technically, it’s possible to manufacture the transistor portions of the... » read more