The main technical breakthroughs we can expect this year will probably revolve around double patterning in lithography as EDA companies try to optimize the technique for density and performance. And it will probably have knock-on effects way up in the design flow, forcing designers to adopt much more regular designs. But, unless EUV sees a major breakthrough, double and further levels of multiple patterning is something people will need to get used to.
Regularity is likely to become a feature of low-power design as well. Although it hurts effective density, the drive to cut power consumption will see much more use made of on-chip redundancy – we’ve already seen some of that in the nVidia Tegra 3 and the ARM Big.Little initiative. We could see those techniques begin to extend into ultralow power circuits using near or subthreshold devices as engineers discover how to model circuits effectively and recover lost performance at very low voltages. Some of these techniques will also help reinvigorate older processes – using better EDA to trim power consumption instead of relying primarily on process changes to deliver better energy efficiency.