Big Shifts At Very Small Geometries

From quantum to 3D integration and fab analytics, little changes add up.


The number of changes across the semiconductor industry are accelerating and widening. There are more innovations, in more places, and in more applications.

What follows is a small peek at just how many significant changes are afoot, where they are happening, and who’s getting recognized for their efforts.

Quantum computing, but hold the math

The modern electronics industry rests on multiple layers of abstraction. Transistors combine to form logic gates, gates combine to make functional blocks, blocks combine to make integrated circuits, and so on all the way up to an application programmer who doesn’t really need to know or care how transistors work.

If quantum computing is to become more than a curiosity for physicists, it will need to develop comparable ways to separate the operations a quantum algorithm performs from the underlying mechanisms that make it work. Bob Coecke and Stefano Gogioso take a step in that direction with their recent book, “Quantum in Pictures.” It’s an accessible introduction to ZX-calculus, a formalism for expressing the properties of quantum particles in terms of quantum information science.

Roadmap: The future of scaling is up

By now, the semiconductor industry is quite familiar with the process implications of Moore’s Law and the demands imposed by ever more stringent requirements. Still, the IEEE Devices and Systems Roadmap’s section on conventional scaling offers bracing clarity. Among other things, the roadmap expects ground rule scaling to reach its ultimate limit by 2028, forcing a transition to 3D integration and vertical device architectures.

High-performance computing faces thermal limits on power density, while mobile computing is constrained by battery capacity and cost. Both will certainly give the team here at Semiconductor Engineering lots to write about for years to come.

Fab analytics for resource efficiency

The sheer size of the semiconductor industry has made it one of the world’s major carbon emitters. Pragmatic Semiconductor argues that its FlexLogic technology can avoid many of the environmental impacts of conventional silicon-based devices, in part through the use of gases and process materials with less global warming potential. Its white paper on low-carbon manufacturing is notably light on details of its own process, but argues that the same analytics that are essential for fab productivity and yield can help improve energy and resource efficiency.

Carver Mead wins 2023 Kyoto Prize

The Kyoto Prize, established by Kyocera Corporation founder Kazuo Inamori, is an annual award honoring individuals who have made significant contributions in the fields of technology, science, and the arts. Among many other contributions, Carver Mead — one of this year’s laureates — designed the first GaAs FET, was one of the first to investigate techniques for very-large-scale circuit integration, and was credited by Gordon Moore with coining the term Moore’s Law. The annual fundraising gala for the Prize is this week. Honoree lectures are archived here.

Smarter cars need more and smarter electronics

Truly autonomous vehicles may lie in the future, but advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) are most definitely here. From parking assistance to “smart” cruise controls, the automotive computing segment is accelerating rapidly. Yole Group analysts expect automotive semiconductor revenue to double by 2028, and the ADAS segment specifically could nearly triple.

Leave a Reply

(Note: This name will be displayed publicly)