The Materials Gap


When consolidation thinned the ranks of semiconductor foundries and equipment makers, materials companies figured things were about to get better. They haven't. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, semiconductors are now so complex and difficult to develop that a slew of innovations are required on all sides. Everyone is familiar with transistor structures, interconnects and lithog... » read more

Can A Supply Chain Be Too Efficient?


The semiconductor industry is a model of efficiency—literally. When other industries look at adding smart manufacturing into their operations, they often look to chip manufacturing as a shining example. After decades of business gyrations, semiconductor companies have figured out how to instill efficiency into every aspect of making chips. This is evident in device scaling. At 90nm, the co... » read more

Is 7nm The Last Major Node?


A growing number of design and manufacturing issues are prompting questions about what scaling will really look like beyond 10/7nm, how many companies will be involved, and which markets they will address. At the very least, node migrations will go horizontally before proceeding numerically. There are expected to be more significant improvements at 7nm than at any previous node, so rather th... » read more

Changing Direction In Chip Design


Andrzej Strojwas, chief technologist at PDF Solutions and professor of electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University—and the winner of this year's Phil Kaufman Award for distinguished contributions to EDA—sat down with Semiconductor Engineering to talk about device scaling, why the semiconductor industry will begin to fragment around new architectures and packaging, and ... » read more

Betting On Power And Deep Learning


Jim Hogan, managing partner of Vista Ventures, sat down with Semiconductor Engineering to talk about what investments deliver the biggest returns, how quickly, and why there are so few investors in some big growth areas. What follows are excerpts of that conversation. SE: What are you investing in these days and why? Hogan: I have about 15 active deals right now. I generally invest in thi... » read more

Making Manufacturing Sustainable For Chips


There is widespread agreement that fabs and manufacturers in general should operate in a sustainable way, but what exactly does that mean? And what concrete steps can fabs take toward that goal? Once we get past the simplistic “more sustainable is better,” things tend to get pretty fuzzy. Consider the definition of sustainability itself. Corporate responsibility reports and similar docum... » read more

Controlling Heat


Modeling on-chip thermal characteristics and chip-package interactions is becoming much more critical for advanced designs, but how to get there isn't always clear. Every chip, based on its target application, has a thermal design power (TDP) target. This is the typical power it can consume without overreaching the acceptable thermal limits in its intended environment. But in order to rate t... » read more

Trade War Looms Over Materials


It’s time to pay close attention to rare earths and raw materials--again. In fact, the supply chain teams and commodity buyers at aerospace, automotive and electronics companies may have some new and potentially big problems on their hands. For some time, the European Union (EU), the United States and other nations have been at odds with China over rare earths. China, which accounts for... » read more

Fins And Wires – How Do We Get To 5nm?


As the industry moves beyond 10nm to the 7nm and 5nm nodes, fundamental shifts are needed to address scaling challenges. Among the priority concerns driving industry changes, particularly with respect to materials and architecture, is the impact on transistor performance from rising parasitic resistance and parasitic capacitance or RC. I spoke about this industry dilemma recently at the SEMICON... » read more

Material And Process Challenges In A Changing Memory Landscape


Moore’s Law has fueled the semiconductor industry’s growth for decades. But as the complexity of scaling increases, extending the economics of Moore’s Law is becoming a challenge. One example illustrating the challenges of maintaining the economic benefits of Moore’s Law is the difficulty of IC chip patterning. Today, this requires an expensive litho scanner, a complicated spacer and... » read more

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