What’s the Right Path For Scaling?


The growing challenges of traditional chip scaling at advanced nodes are prompting the industry to take a harder look at different options for future devices. Scaling is still on the list, with the industry laying plans for 5nm and beyond. But less conventional approaches are becoming more viable and gaining traction, as well, including advanced packaging and in-memory computing. Some option... » read more

Will AI Drive Scaling Forward?


The almost ubiquitous rollout of AI and its offshoots—machine learning, deep learning, neural nets of all types—will require significantly more processing power as the amount of data that needs to be processed continues to grow by orders of magnitude. What isn't clear yet is how that will affect semiconductor manufacturing or how quickly that might happen. AI is more than the latest buz... » read more

The Security Penalty


It's not clear if Meltdown, Spectre and Foreshadow caused actual security breaches, but they did prompt big processor vendors like Intel, Arm, AMD and IBM to fix these vulnerabilities before they were made public by Google's Project Zero. While all of this may make data center managers and consumers feel better in one respect, it has created a level of panic of a different sort. For decades,... » read more

Scaling Sideways


The next steps in semiconductor technology don't follow the same vectors. While 3nm chips are likely to roll out at some point in the future, it's not clear what the business case will be for developing them. What's clear is the number of companies developing chips at that node will shrink to a handful (or less), because they're going to be far too expensive to design, verify and manufacture... » 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 Power Of De-Integration


The idea that more functionality can be added into a single chip, or even into a single system, is falling out of vogue. For an increasing number of applications, it's no longer considered the best option for boosting performance or lowering power, and it costs too much. Hooman Moshar, vice president of engineering at Broadcom, said in a keynote speech at Mentor's User2User conference this w... » read more

More Lithography/Mask Challenges (Part 3)


Semiconductor Engineering sat down to discuss lithography and photomask technologies with Gregory McIntyre, director of the Advanced Patterning Department at [getentity id="22217" e_name="Imec"]; Harry Levinson, senior fellow and senior director of technology research at [getentity id="22819" comment="GlobalFoundries"]; Regina Freed, managing director of patterning technology at [getentity id="... » read more

More Nodes, New Problems


The rollout of leading-edge process nodes is accelerating rather than slowing down, defying predictions that device scaling would begin to subside due to rising costs and the increased difficulty of developing chips at those nodes. Costs are indeed rising. So are the number of design rules, which reflect skyrocketing complexity stemming from multiple patterning, more devices on a chip, and m... » read more

New Patterning Options Emerging


Several fab tool vendors are rolling out the next wave of self-aligned patterning technologies amid the shift toward new devices at 10/7nm and beyond. Applied Materials, Lam Research and TEL are developing self-aligned technologies based on a variety of new approaches. The latest approach involves self-aligned patterning techniques with multi-color material schemes, which are designed for us... » read more

Nodes Vs. Nodelets


Foundries are flooding the market with new nodes and different process options at existing nodes, spreading confusion and creating a variety of challenges for chipmakers. There are full-node processes, such as 10nm and 7nm, with 5nm and 3nm in R&D. But there also is an increasing number of half-nodes or "node-lets" being introduced, including 12nm, 11nm, 8nm, 6nm and 4nm. Node-lets ar... » read more

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