PRAGUE, Czech Republic The traditional scaling of semiconductor manufacturing processes died somewhere between the 130- and 90-nanometer nodes, Bernie Meyerson, IBM's chief technology officer, told an industry forum.
Speaking at this week's International Electronics Forum here, Meyerson repeated earlier comments on scaling. This time, he also referred to the end of conventional CMOS technology, which he portrayed as headed in the same direction as bipolar logic in the mid-1980s.
Meyerson expanded on his scaling-is-dead theme here, saying CMOS has hit a wall in terms of power consumption. He said industry faces a similar transition to the one faced when moving to CMOS from bipolar logic. A new problem is the lack of mature alternative transistor logic technology.
Hence, he added, industry must innovate.
"This lithographic definition of process technology is absolutely meaningless," said Meyerson, referring to the custom of labeling manufacturing processes with a number designed to correspond to the minimum geometries defined in the process or the half-pitch of the most aggressive interconnect structures. "Somewhere between 130-nm and 90-nm the whole system fell apart. Things stopped working and nobody seemed to notice."
He added, "Scaling is already dead but nobody noticed it had stopped breathing and its lips had turned blue."
Meyerson said the biggiest reason is the need for thin gate oxides on the order of a half-dozen atoms. Not only does leakage current become hard to control as a result, but its behavior is extremely nonlinear.
With the end of scaling comes the growing need to innovate, Meyerson said, adding that "60 to 70 percent of the benefit of each new generation of manufacturing would have to come from innovation.
Meyerson said IBM has been pioneering innovations ranging from silicon-on-insulator, strained silicon and FinFETs. Another longer-term solution could be molecular electronics where the metastable movement of carbon monoxide molecules moving on a copper surface.
"The real roadmaps going forward are going to be innovation roadmaps, not lithography roadmaps. It's not just lithography that is driving progress," Meyerson said.