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 ?
2nm thick - equal to five atomic layers - on our previous 65nm process technology, but the continued shrinking has led to increased current leakage through the gate dielectric, resulting in wasted electric current and unnecessary heat.
The 70nm process technology enables 800MHz and 1GHz speed functionality in combination with high-performance operations, but it also provides for a reduction in chip size allowing incrementally more chips per DRAM wafer which increases productivity and volume overall.
In November 2005, the two companies announced an extension of their joint development efforts until 2011 covering 32nm and 22nm process technology generations.
Through this type of cooperation, PSC will not only be able to rapidly expand its DRAM manufacturing scale, but at the same time will be ready to secure next generation process technology.
Upon completion of the analysis, Semiconductor Insights awarded AMD with their 2006 INSIGHT Award for Most Innovative Process Technology.
Chipidea has worked with Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing, one of the world's top dedicated foundries, to make the AFE and data converter designs ready on the most advanced process technology available.
This move to 50nm process technology will enable Intel and Micron to meet the growing demand for higher density NAND flash across a range of computing and consumer electronics applications such as digital music players, removable storage and handheld communications devices.
Our production ready advanced process technology offers our foundry customers the ability to integrate more features while maintaining very low power consumption and a fast ramp into high volume production.

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