Peggy Aycinena is a freelance journalist and Editor of EDA Confidential at www.aycinena.com. She can be reached at peggy at aycinena dot com.
Who cares: Cold Fusion vs. 7nm Silicon
July 15th, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena
Here’s the thing: Yeah, yeah it’s cool that IBM – which apparently invented or first implemented everything [see Below] – has announced 7-nanometer transistors that actually work. Yeah, that’s pretty teeny tiny and everybody’s thrilled. Of course.
Everybody at IBM, GlobalFoundaries, and Samsung (the triumvirate formerly known as Common Platform). Luminaries at Stanford, SUNY, and the Albany NanoTech Complex. Even the Good Governor of the Great Empire State himself.
But really, in truth, who cares? After all, teeny tiny Silicon [no matter what it’s doped up with] is still just that and nothing more. It’s not really a whole new technical paradigm. Like cognitive computing built on amorphous neurons with all those creepy, shape-shifting tendrils. Or machinery built on quantum dots. Or DNA matrices. Or bubbles.
What we really need is not more SiAn [Silicon Anything] – what we need is an entirely new idea. A new paradigm. A new material. And an entirely new manufacturing/industrial complex. Something that’s moved beyond Silicon. Something that’s not just the same old, same old, only smaller. Something that doesn’t cost a gazillion, quadrillion dollars to design and manufacture.
After all, we’ve successfully overcome our obsession with Cold Fusion. Why can’t we get over our obsession with Silicon?
Per IBM’s July 9th Press Release: To achieve the higher performance, lower power, and scaling benefits promised by 7-nanometer technology, researchers had to bypass conventional semiconductor manufacturing approaches. Among the novel processes and techniques pioneered by the IBM Research alliance were a number of industry-first innovations, most notably SiGe channel transistors and EUV lithography integration at multiple levels.
Also in the Press Release: The 7-nanometer node milestone continues IBM’s legacy of historic contributions to silicon and semiconductor innovation. They include the invention or first implementation of the single-cell DRAM, the Dennard Scaling Laws, chemically amplified photoresists, copper interconnect wiring, Silicon on Insulator, strained engineering, multi-core microprocessors, immersion lithography, high speed SiGe, High-k gate dielectrics, embedded DRAM, 3D chip stacking, and Air gap insulators.