The Trouble With MEMS


The advent of the Internet of Things will open up a slew of new opportunities for MEMS-based sensors, but chipmakers are proceeding cautiously. There are a number of reasons for that restraint. Microelectromechanical systems are difficult to design, manufacture and test, which initially fueled optimism in the MEMS ecosystem that this market would command the same kinds of premiums that analo... » 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

Capping Tools Tame Electromigration


By Mark LaPedus The shift towards the 28nm node and beyond has put the spotlight back on the interconnect in semiconductor manufacturing. In chip scaling, the big problem in the interconnect is resistance-capacitance (RC). Another, and sometimes forgotten, issue is electromigration. “Electromigration gets worse in device scaling,” said Daniel Edelstein, an IBM Fellow and manager of BE... » read more

Challenges Mount For Interconnect


By Mark LaPedus There are a plethora of chip-manufacturing challenges for the 20nm node and beyond. When asked what are the top challenges facing leading-edge chip makers today, Gary Patton, vice president of the Semiconductor Research and Development Center at IBM, said it boils down to two major hurdles: lithography and the interconnect. The problems with lithography are well documented.... » read more