process technology

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process technology

The particular manufacturing method used to make silicon chips, which is measured by how small the transistor is. The driving force behind the design of integrated circuits is miniaturization, and process technology boils down to the never-ending goal of smaller. It means more computing power per square inch, and smallness enables the design of ultra-tiny chips that can be placed almost anywhere.

Feature Size Measured in Nanometers
The size of the features (the elements that make up the structures on a chip) are measured in nanometers. A 22 nm process technology refers to features 22 nm or 0.22 µm in size. Also called a "technology node" and "process node," early chips were measured in micrometers (see table below).

Historically, the feature size referred to the length of the silicon channel between source and drain in field effect transistors (see FET). Today, the feature size is typically the smallest element in the transistor or the size of the gate.

From 1,000 Down to 90
The feature size of the 486 chip in 1989 was 1,000 nm (one micron). By 2003, it was 90 nm, reduced by a little less than one millionth of a meter. What may seem like a minuscule reduction took thousands of man years and billions of dollars worth of R&D. In the table below, note the dramatic reductions in the early years of semiconductors.

Chips Are a Miracle of Miniaturization
To understand how tiny these features are, using 22 nm as an example, four thousand of them laid side-by-side are equal to the cross section of a human hair. See half-node and active area.


Half a Micron Is Huge
In a span of five years, the feature size on these AMD chips was reduced from .8 to .35 microns. Half a micron may seem insignificant, but not in the microminiature world of semiconductor manufacturing. As features get smaller, the chip runs faster and uses less energy to perform the same processing. (Image courtesy of Advanced Micro Devices, Inc.)





Semiconductor Feature Sizes(approximate for all vendors)       Nanometers  MicrometersYear     (nm)        (µm)

 1957   120,000      120.0
 1963    30,000       30.0
 1971    10,000       10.0
 1974     6,000        6.0
 1976     3,000        3.0
 1982     1,500        1.5
 1985     1,300        1.3
 1989     1,000        1.0
 1993       600        0.6
 1996       350        0.35
 1998       250        0.25
 1999       180        0.18
 2001       130        0.13
 2003        90        0.09
 2005        65        0.065
 2008        45        0.045
 2010        32        0.032
 2012        22        0.022
 2014        14        0.014
 2017        10        0.010
  ??          7        0.007
  ??          5        0.005

 Future
 Non-Silicon
 Method       1        0.001
References in periodicals archive ?
They tapered the tip of the fiber and attached a thin gold film with a hole between 130 and 180 nanometers wide shaped like a bow tie.
Within the framework of the print industry standard cyan, magenta and yellow color model, the team found that at groove depths of 170 nanometers and spacing of 180 nanometers, a slit 40 nanometers wide can trap red light and reflect a cyan color.
In today's transistors, the gate oxide insulating layer is 25 atoms thick, and the channel is generally 250 or 180 nanometers wide.
Sarnoff has developed ESD protection solutions for five consecutive generations, ranging from 180 nanometers (nm) to 45nm, of Toshiba CMOS process technologies.
he research found that the tiniest air pollutant particles - those measuring less than 180 nanometers or about one-thousandth the width of a human hair - incited inflammation deep in the lungs.
Researchers are talking about reducing sixfold the scale of features that can be rendered in silicon, from about 180 nanometers now, down to about 30.
It addresses the toughest problems -- global and local statistical variations -- that occur in semiconductor devices designed for manufacturing processes at or below 180 nanometers.
Solido's technology addresses the global and local statistical variations that occur in semiconductor devices designed for manufacturing processes at or below 180 nanometers.
Columbus-AMS is part of Sequence's ExtractionStage suite, delivering unrivaled speed, accuracy, and capacity for designs below 180 nanometers (nm).
PhysicalStudio integrates into popular Cadence, Synopsys and Magma third-party routing tools to enable existing physical flows to reach fast, predictable design closure in silicon geometries below 180 nanometers (nm).
Columbus-AMS is part of Sequence's RLC ExtractionStage suite, delivering unrivaled speed, accuracy, and capacity for designs below 180 nanometers (nm).