3nm: Blurring Lines Between SoCs, PCBs And Packages


Leading-edge chipmakers, foundries and EDA companies are pushing into 3nm and beyond, and they are encountering a long list of challenges that raise questions about whether the entire system needs to be shrunk onto a chip or into a package. For 7nm and 5nm, the problems are well understood. In fact, 5nm appears to be more of an evolution from 7nm than a major shift in direction. But at 3nm, ... » read more

Moore And More


For more than 50 years, the semiconductor industry has enjoyed the benefits of Moore's Law — or so it seemed. In reality, there were three laws rolled up into one: Each process generation would have a higher clock speed at the same power. This was not discovered by Moore, but by Dennard, who also invented the DRAM. Process generations continue to get faster and lower power, but the power... » read more

Bigger, Faster, More Diverse And Expensive


Aart de Geus, chairman and co-CEO of Synopsys, sat down with Semiconductor Engineering to talk about the race toward AI everywhere, how splintering markets are affecting design, and why software is now such a critical component of hardware development. SE: We're seeing big advances in compute performance due to advanced packaging and heterogeneous architectures. Is that sustainable? de Ge... » read more

More Knobs, Fewer Markers


The next big thing in chip design may be really big — the price tag. In the past, when things got smaller, so did the cost per transistor. Now they are getting more expensive to design and manufacture, and the cost per transistor is going up along with the number of transistors per area of die, and in many cases even the size of the die. That's not exactly a winning economic formula, which... » read more

CEO Outlook: 2020 Vision


The start of 2020 is looking very different than the start of 2019. Markets that looked hazy at the start of 2019, such as 5G, are suddenly very much in focus. The glut of memory chips that dragged down the overall chip industry in 2019 has subsided. And a finely tuned supply chain that took decades to develop is splintering. A survey of CEOs from across the industry points to several common... » read more

The Week In Review: Semiconductors


The tech-centric NASDAQ index this week broke 9,000, which was a first. Key to the latest run-up were reports of a breakthrough on the trade war with China and continued low interest rates. Chuck Peddle, who helped democratize computing and fuel Moore's Law with his $25 processor chip, passed away last week. Peddle designed the MOS Technology 6502, which was the basis for the KIM-1 single-bo... » read more

Gaps Emerge In Test And Analytics


Sensor and process drift, increased design complexity, and continued optimization of circuitry throughout its lifetime are driving test and analytics in new directions, requiring a series of base comparisons against which equipment and processes can be measured. In the design world this type of platform is called a digital twin, but in the test world there is no equivalent today. And as more... » read more

Better, Not Best


The semiconductor industry has been lulled into a particular way of thinking by Moore's Law. It is like the age-old joke — you don't have to outrun a bear, you only have to be faster than your companion. The same has held true for designs. There is little to no point being the best, you only have to be good enough to be better than the competition. That sets the bar. Best is also relative.... » read more

Is There A Crossover Point For Mainstream Anymore?


Until 28nm, it was generally assumed that process nodes would go mainstream one or two generations after they were introduced. So by the time the leading edge chips for smartphones and servers were being developed at 16/14nm and 10/7nm, it was assumed that developing a chip at 28nm would be less expensive, less complex, and that the process rule deck would shrink. That worked for decades. Th... » read more

A New Playbook For The AI Era


It’s Q4 in Silicon Valley, which means that most tech enterprises are in strategic planning mode, taking stock of where they are today and charting a course for where they want to be over the next few years. This year’s Q4 planning cycle needs to be a little different: the opportunities before us are an order of magnitude larger. So are the challenges. To get to where we need to be, our... » read more

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