The Road to 7nm is Paved with Predictive Modeling
Sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason. (Jerry Seinfeld)
We know what roads will lead us to the 7nm semiconductor node and frankly, they’re not all that scenic. In this week’s Fry Fry, we tackle the trials and tribulations of this tiny titan with David Freid from Coventor. David and I discuss the biggest challenges we will face at this smallest of the small process geometry, how virtual fabrication and predictive modeling can help solve some of our problems, and why the most important question surrounding this new node isn’t being asked: "Should we even go to 7nm?" In this week’s Kickstarter Corner, we check out the coolest new Star Wars campaign to hit the kickstartin’ airwaves: Kyberlight Sabers - The strongest, brightest, and best combat-ready sabers in the galaxy!
PCIe Board Brings Power-Efficient Networking Performance
We’ve talked a lot in these pages about the battle for the future of the data center. FPGAs, we say, represent the path to enlightenment, the power panacea, the key to breaking the energy-hungry tyranny of the von Neumann architecture. Apparently, we are not alone in this line of thinking. Intel, for example, plunked down about sixteen billion votes in favor of an FPGA-based future by acquiring Altera. Xilinx joined a cadre of companies looking to crack Intel’s longstanding dominance of the data center by devising standards to facilitate open-architecture attacks on Intel’s proprietary fortress. Someday, the thinking goes, FPGAs will pave the path to Moore-esque improvement in the energy efficiency of computing, despite the demise of Moore’s Law itself.
Choosing Processors Isn’t Like it Used to Be
“What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the wish to find out, which is the exact opposite." — Bertrand Russell
There’s an old joke that goes something like this. An engineer and a scientist are standing together at the end of a long hallway. They notice two pretty girls standing at the other end, so the engineer turns to the scientist and says, “I’ll make you a wager. Let’s both walk down the hallway until we’re half the distance to those two girls. Then we’ll walk half of the remaining distance, then half the distance after that, and so on. First one to get there wins. Ready… Go!”
Applied Materials Improves Connections to Silicon
We spend a lot of time talking about wafer materials and what might be in the future. And we spend a lot of time talking about how to build a transistor on that wafer. And we spend yet more time talking about the metal lines running all over from here to yonder. But what we don’t spend quite so much time on is how everything gets connected to that metal.
That can, of course, be summarized in two words: “contact” and “via.” “Contact” if it’s metal to silicon; “via” if it’s metal to metal. So we typically think of one contact layer and lots of via layers, although Applied Materials (aka AMAT) talks in terms of two contact layers.
AMD and the Era of Data Convergence
Keep innovation in your back pocket and the end game in your sights at all times. This race is ride or die. The data center waits for no one. Mark Papermaster (CTO - AMD) joins Fish Fry this week to discuss the complex chip competition in the data center market, why open ecosystems are the lynchpin of data center evolution, and why he believes that your product is only as good as your team. Also this week, we take a closer look at how you can maximize your performance-per-watt with Zynq UltraScale+ MPSoCs.
Matching Treatment to Patient
imec's Technology Forum in Brussels was strongly attended (by around a thousand people), despite the issues of international terrorism and national industrial disputes. The terrorism alert meant that just getting into the meeting halls required standing in long queues with bag checks and physical screening. The industrial disputes meant that many of the local delegates were delayed in traffic jams around Brussels.
Once in the hall, there was a lot of good stuff provided by senior people from around the semiconductor industry and the wider world. Just a reminder – imec is a Belgium-based research and development organisation that is pushing the boundaries of nano-electronics. It works in cooperation with every major semiconductor company, most foundries, and most equipment manufacturers. (Find out more on its website www.imec.be.) This meant that high-level people from the likes of Analog Devices, GlobalFoundries, Infineon, Intel, Mentor Graphics, Panasonic, and Samsung - to name just a few - shared their expertise with the attendees.