Rethinking The Scaling Mantra


What makes a new chip better than a previous version, or a competitor's version, has been changing for some time. In most cases the key metrics are still performance and power, but what works for one application or use case increasingly is different from another. Advancements are rarely tied just to process nodes these days. Even the most die-hard proponents of Moore's Law recognize that the... » read more

Challenges At 3/2nm


David Fried, vice president of computational products at Lam Research, talks about issues at upcoming process nodes, the move to EUV lithography and nanosheet transistors, and how process variation can affect yield and device performance. » read more

Finding Defects With E-Beam Inspection


Several companies are developing or shipping next-generation e-beam inspection systems in an effort to reduce defects in advanced logic and memory chips. Vendors are taking two approaches with these new e-beam inspection systems. One is a more traditional approach, which uses a single-beam e-beam system. Others, meanwhile, are developing newer multi-beam technology. Both approaches have thei... » read more

Speeding Up The R&D Metrology Process


Several chipmakers are making some major changes in the characterization/metrology lab, adding more fab-like processes in this group to help speed up chip development times. The characterization/metrology lab, which is generally under the radar, is a group that works with the R&D organization and the fab. The characterization lab is involved in the early analytical work for next-generati... » read more

Atomic Layer Etch Expands To New Markets


The semiconductor industry is developing the next wave of applications for atomic layer etch (ALE), hoping to get a foothold in some new and emerging markets. ALE, a next-generation etch technology that removes materials at the atomic scale, is one of several tools used to process advanced devices in a fab. ALE moved into production for select applications around 2016, although the technolog... » read more

EUV’s Uncertain Future At 3nm And Below


Several foundries have moved extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography into production at both 7nm and 5nm, but now the industry is preparing for the next phase of the technology at 3nm and beyond. In R&D, the industry is developing new EUV scanners, masks and resists for the next nodes. 3nm is slated for 2022, followed by 2nm a year or two later. Nonetheless, it will require massive funding... » read more

A Node Too Far?


Physics is an unforgiving master. While the semiconductor industry has been actively developing new transistor structures, new materials for interconnects and lining trenches, and new approaches to alleviate congestion at the lowest metal levels, it also has been playing an accelerating game of Whac-a-Mole. Whenever a problem pops up, the solution to that problem is never complete and more prob... » read more

Scaling At The Angstrom Level


It now appears likely that 2nm will happen, and possibly the next node or two beyond that. What isn't clear is what those chips will be used for, by whom, and what they ultimately will look like. The uncertainty isn't about the technical challenges. The semiconductor industry understands the implications of every step of the manufacturing process down to the sub-nanometer level, including ho... » read more

Making Chips At 3nm And Beyond


Select foundries are beginning to ramp up their new 5nm processes with 3nm in R&D. The big question is what comes after that. Work is well underway for the 2nm node and beyond, but there are numerous challenges as well as some uncertainty on the horizon. There already are signs that the foundries have pushed out their 3nm production schedules by a few months due to various technical issu... » read more

Improving EUV Process Efficiency


The semiconductor industry is rethinking the manufacturing flow for extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography in an effort to improve the overall process and reduce waste in the fab. Vendors currently are developing new and potentially breakthrough fab materials and equipment. Those technologies are still in R&D and have yet to be proven. But if they work as planned, they could boost the flo... » read more

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