Week 13: Cruising The Deep Submicron

What does Crater Lake have to do with semiconductor technology? Nothing…but it does get you thinking.


These cooler, shorter days can only mean one thing: It’s time to get in the last beautiful late summer, early autumn motorcycle rides. Surprised? Well, I ride a 2005 Harley Davidson Dyna Low Rider. I’m a picky rider who prefers the kind of perfect weather conditions that have prevailed in Oregon during the last few weekends. Here is a little clip from a recent tour around Crater Lake in southern Oregon with my friend Terence. It was my first time using a GoPro camera, which we mounted on Terence’s helmet. When we came home and looked at the footage, the entire film was upside down, though I was able to correct that with GoPro’s editing software. I obviously have to learn how to use the camera correctly.

No matter which way you look at it, Crater Lake is amazing. It is the deepest lake in the United States (1,943 feet/592 meters) and has the purest water and most incredible color. For once, my mind didn’t wander to DAC, but the whole scene did make me think of deep submicron technology. (I know, I really can’t switch it off!) I gazed at the lake and started wondering what one would find at the bottom. For one thing, somewhere in the depths is the wreck of a helicopter from a terrible accident in 1995. In 1999, the Crater Lake Institute conducted a multi-beam sonar analysis of the lake bottom. While they didn’t locate the helicopter, they got some worthwhile information about ancient lava flows, vents and other geologic features.

Which made me ponder…what do you believe is lurking in the deep submicron below 10nm? We’ve already uncovered so much as we’ve descended down the technology nodes — the rise of systematic defects as the primary cause of yield failures, the delay in EUV driving the need for multi-patterning technology, the introduction of new geometries in finFET transistors and 2.5/3D constructions, and the integration of traditional CMOS with new technologies such as MEMs and silicon photonics. What haven’t we discovered yet?

And where do you go to find out? Well, now we get around to DAC. You will attend DAC, right? I’m sure there will be enough content in the technical and vendor programs to keep you busy, educated and entertained. Better yet, submit a paper, tutorial, workshop or panel idea to talk about your work in deep submicron (and the other areas we cover at DAC). The call for contributions will be live on the Web site on Sept. 15, so mark your calendar now. Join your peers around the industry in diving deep into some of the most compelling topics in EDA and beyond.

  • Here is a nice 3D view of Crater Lake (Deep Sub Meter?):