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Sunday, June 1, 2014

#291 "Concorde" and 5 nm technology node - what do they have in common?

You remember "Concorde", a supersonic passenger jetliner capable of moving passengers across the Atlantic in 3 hours of so? It was almost 2 times faster that any other passenger jet. How come then this engineering marvel was retired for good in 2003? Well, it was simply too expensive. In other words, gains resulting from the technological achievement did not justified a very high cost of its implementation.Besides, what if on a given day the time of door-to-door trip between offices in Manhattan and the City of London would be determined by the time of the taxi rides to and from the airports rather than by the time of the flight itself? In this context a supersonic speed of "Concorde" doesn't look so glamorous, right?


I have a feeling that the same will happen to 5 nm and below IC technology nodes. In other words, I venture to predict that 5 nm gate length technology will be never brought to fruition as a commercial, mass-manufactured  product for logic applications because of the cost of its implementation being significantly higher than the potential profit gains resulting from the improved transistor performance. Besides, what if overall circuit performance would be limited by the interconnect and package related delays and dissipated heat management problems and not by the performance of the ultra-short gate length transistor? In this context the fact that the gate of the transistor will be some 10 atoms long would look somewhat less exciting, right?


Well, I hope you see what I am trying to say. But just to make it clear, I fully understand how remote  the parallel between supersonic "Concord" and 5 nm integrated circuit technology node is. At the same time, however, I can not help but to take note of the fact that the times have come when outstanding, ground breaking, progress defining, ready to implement accomplishments of science and engineering are being  shelved because we are not willing to pay for them. To me, it looks like a somewhat new chapter in the history of our technical civilization.
Do you agree with me?

Posted by Jerzy Ruzyllo at 06:16 PM | Semiconductors | Link is the personal blog of Jerzy Ruzyllo. With over 35 years of experience in academic research and teaching in the area of semiconductor engineering (currently holding position of a Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering and Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Penn State University), he has a unique perspective on the developments in this progress driving technical domain and enjoys blogging about it.

With over 2000 terms defined and explained, Semiconductor Glossary is the most complete reference in the field of semiconductors on the market today.

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