by Pawan Fangaria
As I see the semiconductor industry going through significant changes and advances, yet ironically plagued by a growing perception that the pace of scaling is slowing, I was inclined to take a peek into what the industry experts say about the state of the industry and the future of Moore’s Law. Fortunately, at last week’s International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM 2013), a panel discussion among an impressive lineup of experts from industry leading organizations was set up. Dr. David M. Fried, CTO-Semiconductor at Coventor, the host organization, moderated the session.
The discussion was structured around defining the greatest technical challenge, and looked further into where to find answers. Generally speaking, the greatest challenge was identified as keeping development of increasingly complex integration schemes on schedule and within budget and how the industry can align to address it. Several panellists added personal details to exemplify the challenge. Dr. Brian Greene, 14nm FEOL architect at IBM, highlighted adoption of new device architectures and materials and increasing process-module interdependencies as challenges. Dr. Sean Lian, Director and Technology Lead at Samsung, is assessing all the schemes to scale down to the 7 nm technology node. Dr. Herve Jaouen, Director of Modelling & Simulation at ST, sees challenges in Middle-of-Line optimization and complex design rules. Dr. Andy Wei, Process Architecture PMTS at GLOBALFOUNDRIES, added that managing patterning costs is a major part of the challenge.
Where to find answers to this challenge? It was a unanimous opinion to find it through closer ties between design and process technology development, industry collaboration, university research and process simulation. There are many variables that must be optimized to keep development on schedule, such as test mask design and optimally allocating resources for fundamental research of advanced technology nodes (e.g. 7nm). Dr. Andy Wei looked up to the EDA tools industry to help meet some of these challenges and accelerate the pace of development.