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Wrestling With Analog At 3nm


Analog engineers are facing big challenges at 3nm, forcing them to come up with creative solutions to a widening set of issues at each new process node. Still, these problems must be addressed, because no digital chip will work without at least some analog circuitry. As fabrication technologies shrink, digital logic improves in some combination of power, performance, and area. The process te... » read more

Angstrom-Level Measurements With AFMs


Competition is heating up in the atomic force microscopy (AFM) market, where several vendors are shipping new AFM systems that address various metrology challenges in packaging, semiconductors and other fields. AFM, a small but growing field that has been under the radar, involves a standalone system that provides surface measurements on structures down to the angstrom level. (1 angstrom = 0... » read more

Impact Of GAA Transistors At 3/2nm


The chip industry is poised for another change in transistor structure as gate-all-around (GAA) FETs replace finFETs at 3nm and below, creating a new set of challenges for design teams that will need to be fully understood and addressed. GAA FETs are considered an evolutionary step from finFETs, but the impact on design flows and tools is still expected to be significant. GAA FETs will offer... » read more

Foundry Wars Begin


Leading-edge foundry vendors are gearing up for a new, high-stakes spending and technology race, setting the stage for a possible shakeup across the semiconductor manufacturing landscape. In March, Intel re-entered the foundry business, positioning itself against Samsung and TSMC at the leading edge, and against a multitude of foundries working at older nodes. Intel announced plans to build ... » read more

Chasing After Carbon Nanotube FETs


Carbon nanotube transistors are finally making progress for potential use in advanced logic chips after nearly a quarter century in R&D. The question now is whether they will move out of the lab and into the fab. Several government agencies, companies, foundries, and universities over the years have been developing, and are now making advancements with carbon nanotube field-effect transi... » read more

New Transistor Structures At 3nm/2nm


Several foundries continue to develop new processes based on next-generation gate-all-around transistors, including more advanced high-mobility versions, but bringing these technologies into production is going to be difficult and expensive. Intel, Samsung, TSMC and others are laying the groundwork for the transition from today’s finFET transistors to new gate-all-around field-effect trans... » read more

FinFETs Give Way To Gate-All-Around


When they were first commercialized at the 22 nm node, finFETs represented a revolutionary change to the way we build transistors, the tiny switches in the “brains” of a chip. As compared to prior planar transistors, the fin, contacted on three sides by the gate, provides much better control of the channel formed within the fin. But, finFETs are already reaching the end of their utility as... » read more

Manufacturing Bits: Nov. 17


Intel’s gate-all-around FETs At the upcoming IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM), Intel is expected to present papers on its efforts to develop gate-all-around transistors. One paper from Intel describes a more conventional gate-all-around transistor technology called a nanosheet FET. Another paper involves a next-generation NMOS-on-PMOS nanoribbon transistor technology. (F... » 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

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

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