Manufacturing Bits: May 9

China’s quantum computer; UMC’s ReRAM/finFET; atomic switch PLDs.

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China’s quantum computer
In its latest achievement, China has built a quantum computer. With its technology, the University of Science and Technology of China and Zhejiang University claimed to have set two records in quantum computing.

In classical computing, the information is stored in bits, which can be either a “0” or “1”. In quantum computing, information is stored in quantum bits, or qubits, which can exist as a “0” or “1” or a combination of both. The superposition state enables a quantum computer to perform millions of calculations at once.

Last year, meanwhile, researchers from China developed a single photon source based on quantum dots. Now, they are using this technology, along with an electronically programmable photonic circuit, to build a multi-photon quantum computing prototype.

The prototype runs a Boson sampling task. Boson sampling is an interim step towards a full-blown quantum computer. It is not the long-awaited universal quantum computer, which is being pursued by governments and companies.

Boson sampling requires fewer physical resources than building universal optical quantum computers, according to the researchers. Still, with the technology, China claims it has set two records “in quantum control of the maximal numbers of entangled photonic quantum bits and entangled superconducting quantum bits.”

China continues to advance its technology. China stunned the industry last year, when the nation rolled out the world’s fastest supercomputer. The system, dubbed the Sunway TaihuLight, is based on processors made in China, not Intel or other U.S. chipmakers. Now, China also boasts the world’s largest radio telescope. The system, dubbed the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST), makes use of 4,450 reflecting panels. It’s roughly the size of 30 soccer fields.

Brain chips
The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) is developing a specialized chip for use in deep learning applications.

The government-based organization plans to invest $1.4 million to develop the brain-inspired chip, dubbed Cambricon. Last year, a Chinese-based company called Cambricon Technologies was set up to bring the chip to market.

According to researchers, the so-called Cambricon-1A performs 16 billion virtual neurons per second and has a peak capacity of two trillion synapses per second. This is twice the performance of a GPU with lower power.

ReRAM/finFETs, atomic PLDs, CMOS quantum
The 2017 Symposium on VLSI Technology and the 2017 Symposium on VLSI Circuits will be held on June 6-8, 2017.

In one of the presentations, the National Chiao Tung University, National Taiwan Normal University and UMC will demonstrate ReRAM technology utilizing a high-k/metal-gate stack combined with a 14nm finFET platform. “This ReRAM is of a bipolar type with ion vacancy-based operation. New active fin isolation (AFI) technology will be proposed and demonstrated to suppress the sneak-path issue. Thanks to this technology, the S/N margin is greatly improved by three orders of magnitude. Compared to a conventional AND-type memory cell, 30% reduction of standby power, and 99% reduction of active power are obtained,” according to an abstract about the paper.

Separately, National Nano Device Laboratories, National Cheng Kung University, National Chiao Tung University, National Sun Yat-Sen University and Industrial Technology Research Institute have demonstrated Ge n- and p-finFETs with a different interfacial layer of ferroelectric-based hafnium zirconium oxide (HfZrOx). A 58mV/dec device is demonstrated with a gate length of 60nm. “Microwave annealing not only shows enhanced FE characteristics but also suppresses the gate leakage and Ge interdiffusion compared with conventional rapid thermal annealing.”

At the event, NEC will also present a paper on a nonvolatile programmable logic (NPL) based on a complementary atomic switch. The technology is integrated into a 40nm process, showing 2x logic density, 3.8x operation speed, and 3x power efficiency, as compared to a commercial low-power programmable logic.

Separately, Institut Neel, LETI and others will present a paper on CMOS-based quantum computing. Researchers will demonstrate real -time monitoring of a single spin in a quantum dot using foundry-compatible silicon MOS technology and a split-gate design.