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 ?
The three facilities will continue manufacturing existing Panasonic production of semiconductor diffusion process, including the 12 inch advanced wafer fab with technologies of 65 and 45 nanometers, in addition to manufacturing expansion of new products and technologies from new customers.
So at 45 nanometers we went to high-k metal gates [which work better at small scales] and literally changed everything: the architecture, the materials, the manufacturing process.
In today's chips, the length of these gates is about 45 nanometers, or billionths of a meter.
AMD now lags far-larger rival Intel in chipmaking technology and could be about nine months behind Intel when it introduces chips with elements as small as 45 nanometers in the second half of this year.
While Fujitsu Microelectronics will develop a system LSI with a line width of 45 nanometers on its own, the independent development of a 32-nm circuitry LSI will be difficult in light of huge development costs, Haruki Okada said at a press conference.
The group mixed multiple copies of the modified virus with gold particles roughly 45 nanometers in diameter.
The company is said to offer a line of more than 44 non-contact sensors with fast response rates up to 500 kHz, greater accuracy with resolutions down to 45 nanometers and cost-competitive prices that meet most industrial needs.
This is an extensive and diverse engagement, covering technology nodes from 45 nanometers down to 14 nanometers, spanning multiple process and device integration applications.
The company plans to produce millions of chips for Nintendo featuring IBM Silicon on Insulator (SOI) technology at 45 nanometers (45 billionths of a meter).
said Wednesday they will jointly develop technology to make system large-scale integrated circuits with the precision of 45 nanometers.
The fingernail-sized memory chip is etched with 1 billion transistors that are only 45 nanometers wide - about 1,000 times smaller than a red blood cell, said Mark Bohr, a leading Intel engineer.
11 Journal of the American Chemical Society, Sotzing and his team describe how they used their AFM technique to create conducting lines only 45 nanometers wide.