The Next Materials Race


Trade wars are costly on many fronts, and a trade war between the United States and China is bound to cause a variety of problems that no one anticipated. But in some areas, there may be a silver lining. And where there is no silver lining available, other materials may suffice. For decades, big chipmakers have been squeezing the entire semiconductor supply chain in a race to double the num... » read more

Why Test Costs Will Increase


The economics of test are under siege. Long seen as a necessary but rather mundane step in ensuring chip quality, or a way of testing circuitry from the inside while it is still in use, manufacturers and design teams have paid little attention to this part of the design-through-manufacturing flow. But problems have been building for some time in three separate areas, and they could have a b... » read more

The Quest For Perfection


Demands by automakers for zero defects over 15 years are absurd, particularly when it comes to 10/7nm AI systems that will be the brains of autonomous and assisted driving or any mobile electronic device. There are several reasons for this. To begin with, no one has ever used a 10/7nm device under extreme conditions for any length of time. Chips developed at these nodes are just starting to ... » read more

Who’s Paying For Auto Chip Test?


Testing of automotive chips is becoming more difficult and time-consuming, and the problem is only going to get worse. There is more to this than simply developing new test equipment or devising a better design for test flow. There are multiple issues at play here, and some of them are at odds with the others. First, no one has experience using advanced-node chips in extreme environments.... » read more

Testing Cars In Context


The choices for companies developing systems or components that will work in autonomous vehicles is to road test them for millions of miles or to simulate them, or some combination of both. Simulation is much quicker, and it has worked well in the semiconductor world for decades. Simulating a chip or electronic system in context is hard enough. But simulating a system of systems in the real... » read more

New Transistor Types Vs. Packaging


Plans are being formulated for the rollout of multiple types of gate-all-around FETs and literally dozens of advanced packaging options. The question now is which ones will achieve critical mass, because there aren't enough chips in the world to support all of them profitably. FinFETs, which were first introduced by Intel at 22nm, are running out of steam. While they will survive 10/7nm, and... » read more

The Case For Chiplets


Discussion about chiplets is growing as the cost of developing chips at 10/7nm and beyond passes well beyond the capabilities of many chipmakers. Estimates for developing 5nm chips (the equivalent 3nm for TSMC and Samsung) are well into the hundreds of millions of dollars just for the NRE costs alone. Masks costs will be in the double-digit millions of dollars even with EUV. And that's assum... » read more

The Race To Mass Customization


The number of advanced packaging options continues to rise. The choices now include different materials for interposers, at least a half-dozen fan-outs, not to mention hybrid fan-out/3D stacking, system-in-package, flip-chip and die-to-die bridges. There are several reasons for all of this activity. First, advanced packaging offers big improvements in performance and power that cannot be ac... » read more

Is Advanced Packaging The Next SoC?


Device scaling appears to be possible down to 1.2nm, and maybe even beyond that. What isn't obvious is when scaling will reach that node, how many companies will actually use it, or even what chips will look like when foundries actually start turning out these devices using multi-patterning with high-NA EUV and dielectrics with single-digit numbers of atoms. There are two big changes playing... » read more

What’s In The Package?


Putting a variety of chips or hardened IP blocks into a package rather than trying to cram them into a single chip continues to gain ground. But it's also creating its own set of issues around verifying and testing these devices. This problem is well understood inside of SoCs, where everything is integrated into a single die. And looked at from a 30,000-foot perspective, packaging is someth... » read more

← Older posts