Silicon summit looks ahead

January 16, 2017

rick.merritt-January 16, 2017

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. — Semiconductor advances could continue through 2025 with extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV) coming online in 2020, said tech experts at the annual Industry Strategy Symposium. Market watchers shared long-term forecasts for mid-single-digit growth, with this year performing above average.

Ballooning design costs and geopolitical wild cards stood out as two of the biggest risks ahead in talks at the event famous for providing a view that spans macroeconomics to nanotechnology.

Scotten Jones, president of IC Knowledge, gave perhaps the most upbeat assessment of the technical roadmap. His talk also provided a kind of decoder ring to decrypt the smoke and mirrors surrounding today’s process nodes.

“I don’t believe [that] Moore’s law is dead, and the deep techs don’t believe it either,” he said, noting that both Intel and GlobalFoundries now report cost savings in post-14-nm nodes. “I think [that] we have a path that produces transistors that scale down in cost,” he said.

He predicted that a 5-nm node could hit starting in late 2019 using EUV in at least some steps, probably still using some form of FinFETs as transistors. Beyond that, a 3.5-nm generation moving to horizontal nanowires could mark the last node for classical scaling.

Nevertheless, a 2.5-nm generation stacking n- and p-nanowires could deliver 60–70% density increases into the year 2025, he said, citing a simulation run by process-modeling specialist Coventor.

In a separate talk, GlobalFoundries chief technologist Gary Patton shared his optimism. He predicted that chip makers will move to gate-all-around transistors somewhere around 2020 as device structures approach atomic limits.

“There’s a view [that] Moore’s law is ending, but we always figure out how to move things forward,” Patton said.

In the short-term, it's becoming a neck-and-neck race among chip makers, said Jones.

In the chart below, he showed his view that TSMC recently took the lead from Samsung, which took it from Intel last year. The x86 giant will retake the lead with its 10-nm process early this year, with GlobalFoundries stealing it back with its 7-nm node in 2018, he predicted.

Continue reading Page 2 on Embedded's sister site, EE Times: "15 views from a silicon summit."

 

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