Semiconductor technology has reached a significant technology crossroads; one were the usually-dependable "Moore's Law" provides scant guidance. Scaling continues to charge forward, with 20nm device production expected this year and 14nm device production anticipated sometime in 2014. As the industry fast approaches the 10nm, some real basic choices have to be made. Those choices go to the very basics of semiconductor design and manufacturing and, scarily, those choices need be addressed immediately. In other words, the future is now.
Here's what's happening. On one hand, both fully depleted Silicon on Insulator (SOI) and multi-gate MOSFETs have demonstrated superior electrostatic integrity, tolerance to low channel doping and are considered competing successors to today's classic process technologies. At the same time 22nm, 20nm and 14nm FinFET technologies appear to be the processes du jour for leading semiconductor device and foundry companies. Clearly some critical decisions will have to be made and made soon.
So where to start? One obvious observation is that device analysis and simulation should play an important task in sorting through short term and longer term options. But questions raised by the R&D community challenge the assumption that simulation technology is up to the task.