The industry is very nervous and if we have been paying attention to what we saw last year, the roadmaps are getting shorter and shorter in the time perspective, barely 3 years at most. These roadmaps are far in sight for the next decade and if we talk about lithographic processes, things get complicated …
Silicon remains without a substitute, reducing the gap between transistors is increasingly difficult
It seems the whole industry agrees as it did with FinFET: GAA is the most immediate future of transistors and as such Moore’s Law will be rewritten once again. But we are still reaching the physical limit to reduce the sizes, so adding more transistors will be a really big step in the transition from FinFET to GAA, but then we will be in the same paradigm when there are only chips with this new one. technology.
Although we do not believe it, silicon has no possible substitute with its properties and above all, with its costs. We have been talking about graphene for a long time, but the reality is that it is far from being used in industry to the point that there are already scientists who reject it completely in the middle of 2021.
The future curiously passes through silicon, GAA and above all through a well-known technology: vertical stacking or also called 3D. To this must be added the fact that chiplets will be in everything and that the big.LITTLE architecture will take control of the vast majority of the market, be it x86 or ARM.
This does not solve the main problem, what is beyond 1 nanometer?
This is all great, at least in the short term, but the density and size of the transistors on a wafer is still the issue. Are we going to get to the nanometer? Of course, although BOMs lie and are a marketing tool in and of themselves … The problem is getting down to picometers, because although there are atoms that are very large and measure nanometers, the vast majority is measured in picometers, so physically up to This unit of measurement will be feasible, what we don’t know is how long it will take.
The problem is that at that point we get into various paradoxes, like those of the quantum tunnel, which yes they are far away, but as a species we will be faced with a pretty incredible problem today: some elements will not be able to be used in the chips of the future, when the lithography manages to evolve below the size of its atoms.
This is where the physical limit of the semiconductor industry is, and this is where we need to go. When? That’s the big question, many of us don’t even see it, times are getting longer and longer, but the goal is clear, how to get there is the unknown and the variable to clear …