Moore’s Law stated that the number of transistors on a single chip would double every two years for at least a decade, but this level of acceleration has plateaued. Today, one tiny chip can carry billions of transistors, but many manufacturers are abandoning Moore’s Law to accommodate heat challenges. Even chip titan, Intel, is deserting its production cycle to slow down the pace of scaling.
Brand Titans and Technology
Semiconductors are manufactured using photolithography, which relies on EV laser lights and coated circuit patterns. The more steps there are in the production process, the greater the odds of error. In the last few years, traditional lithography processes have introduced some other technical limitations. To meet rising challenges, IBM is using silicon-germanium instead of pure silicon in its production process, and UCLA has taken a similar approach. Their self-collapse lithography technology applies a chemical composition to a newly designed substrate. Columbia, not to be outdone, has developed a 14-atom cluster of 0.5nm to improve precision when stimulating electrical response. Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography has also received plenty of investment from brand titans including Intel and Samsung.
The sector is focusing more on chips that suit individual devices, but this requires a manufacturing process that’s more than just innovative. It must also be economical.
The automotive industry will play a key role here because their semiconductor revenue is growing at double the market rate. By 2030, half of a vehicle’s manufacturing costs will go to electric components, and the sector has the luxury to direct considerable investment towards fab operations.
Size and Production
As chips shrink, manufacturers must overcome challenges related to lithographic patterning, material interface control, positioning and stability. To complicate matters further, product lifecycles are stiflingly short, so all these problems must be solved at lower production costs.
Read more about recent innovations in chip manufacturing.