Why DRAM Won’t Go Away


Semiconductor Engineering sat down to talk about DRAM's future with Frank Ferro, senior director of product management at Rambus; Marc Greenberg, group director for product marketing at Cadence; Graham Allan, senior product marketing manager for DDR PHYs at Synopsys; and Tien Shiah, senior manager for memory marketing at Samsung Electronics. What follows are excerpts of that conversation. Part ... » read more

Another Brick Or Two In The Chip Design Wall


Physical challenges come and go in the semiconductor world. But increasingly, they also stick around, showing up in inconvenient places at the worst time. The chip industry has confronted and solved some massive challenges over the years. There was the 1 micron lithography wall, which was supposed to be impenetrable. That was followed by the 193nm litho challenge, which cost many billions of... » read more

Advanced Packaging Options Increase


Designing, integrating and assembling heterogeneous packages from blocks developed at any process node or cost point is proving to be far more difficult than expected, particularly where high performance is one of the main criteria. At least part of the problem is there is a spectrum of choices, which makes it hard to achieve economies of scale. Even where there is momentum for a particular ... » read more

Why Scaling Must Continue


The entire semiconductor industry has come to the realization that the economics of scaling logic are gone. By any metric—price per transistor, price per watt, price per unit area of silicon—the economics are no longer in the plus column. So why continue? The answer is more complicated than it first appears. This isn't just about inertia and continuing to miniaturize what was proven in t... » read more

Semicon West Debrief


AI vs. energy. Quantum for everyone. Biofabrication of human organs on a mass scale. Slowing advancements from Moore’s law. In the midst of a market dip, optimism reigned as keynote and AI Design Forum speakers addressed both looming challenges and explosive market opportunities during July 9-10 presentations at SEMICON West 2019 in San Francisco. SEMICON West again proved to be a magnet f... » read more

Semiconductor’s Dinosaurs


Dinosaurs once ruled this planet. They existed in every shape and form – some large, others tiny. Each adapted to its own specific environment. Some stayed on the land, others went to sea, and yet another group took to the skies. They looked like they were invincible and would be the pinnacle of the food chain. Then a cataclysmic event happened, and dinosaurs went into a fairly rapid decline.... » read more

Node Within A Node


Enough margin exists in manufacturing processes to carve out the equivalent of a full node of scaling, but shrinking that margin will require a collective push across the entire semiconductor manufacturing supply chain. Margin is built into manufacturing at various stages to ensure that chips are manufacturable and yield sufficiently. It can include everything from variation in how lines are... » read more

Debate Over Health Of Moore’s Law Continues


Semicon West 2019 was kicked off by the ‘AI Design Forum’ and featured a panel of CEOs that debated if Moore’s Law was still making power, performance and area optimization possible in the same way as it had been. Synopsys chairman and co-CEO Aart de Geus asserted that Moore’s Law is completely alive. “The discussion of Moore's Laws invariably goes back to the ‘65 document, and t... » read more

Security’s Very Strange Path To Success


Security at the chip level appears to be heading toward a more promising future. The reason is simple—more people are willing to pay for security than in the past. For the most part, security is like insurance. You don't know it's working until something goes wrong, and you don't necessarily even know right away if there has been a breach. Sometimes it takes years to show up, because it ca... » read more

Rethinking What Goes On A Chip


There are hints across the chip industry that chipmakers are beginning to reexamine one of the basic concepts of chip design. For more than 50 years, progress in semiconductors was measured by the ability to double the density of transistors on a piece of silicon. While that approach continues to be useful, the power and performance benefits have been dwindling for the past couple of nodes. ... » read more

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