EE Times has compiled a list of emerging technologies that we think will be worth watching out for in 2010.
3. Plastic memory
This is allied to printed electronics as it may well be produced using printing, it may well have modest performance compared to silicon, but it is expected to be low cost. One pioneer in this area is Thin Film Electronics ASA (Oslo, Norway) which has tried for a number of years to get the technology out the door and spent some time working with Intel.
The technology is based on polythiophenes, a family of polymers that display ferroelectric properties. The memories are rewritable, non-volatile, show more than ten years data retention and one million cycles, according to Thin Film Electronics. In September 2009 PolyIC GmbH & Co. KG (Fuerth, Germany) used the technology to make a 20-bit memory on a roll-to-roll line using polyethylene terephthalate (PET) as the substrate.
4. Maskless lithography
For many people the main question that hangs over semiconductor lithography is when will extreme ultra violet lithography take over from immersion lithography? But there is a dark horse in the race, maskless lithography based on an electron beam, which is being pioneered by Mapper Lithography BV (Delft, The Netherlands).
In July 2009 Mapper shipped a 300-mm electron-beam lithography platform to CEA-Leti in Grenoble, France, where it was set to be used for R&D by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. TSMC is one of the key researchers of lithography and the company's interest in the Mapper technology is at the very least keeping the likes of ASML and Nikon working hard.
5. Parallel processing
This technology is already here in the form of the dual- and quad-core PC processors and the multicore heterogeneous processors used for embedded applications. However, there is as yet little formal understanding of how multiple processors will be programmed and used for the utmost computational and power efficiency.
This is one of the core problems in Information Technology that has faced the industry since the advent of the processor and we are still working away at it. Initiatives such as OpenCL and Cuda speak to that as do the prospect of using graphics processors as general purpose processors, as well as FPGAs and software programmable processor arrays. We expect a lot more activity in 2010.