SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Moore's Law will continue for the next decade, but declines in cost/transistor won't be as great as they were in the past, said Synopsys chairman Aart de Geus. Growing complexity of chip designs is delaying a shift to larger wafers and may open doors for alternative technologies, he said at an annual event for Synopsys users.
His comments come at a time of increasing concern about the future of semiconductor technology. Some observers say the 28nm node could be the last to deliver the full range of benefits traditional with a new silicon node -- lower costs and power and higher performance.
Looking ahead, "the jury is out in how fast price comes down per transistor -- that's a function of how quickly yields improve," de Geus told a press gathering here. "It is possible that as the price decrease of transistors lowers, the price of semiconductors has to go up" so chip makers can recoup their investments, he said.
de Geus said he contacted Mark Bohr to get the Intel fellow's views. Bohr said he sees a path to a 7nm node and the "possibility of somehow lowering the price per transistor," de Geus reported.
Analyst G. Dan Hutcheson said little data is available about the cost/transistor in future nodes. However, he is projecting the industry will continue to see cost declines based on its past history.
Starting at 20nm, fabs have to pattern some chip layers twice due to the lack of next-generation lithography tools. But lithography only represents roughly a quarter of the cost of making a chip, Hutcheson said.
Next page: Bunching up at 28nm