SAN JOSE, Calif. — AMD is among chip designers getting an early taste of 7nm process technologies, said its chief technology officer. He called for accelerated work on wafer-level fan-out packaging and greater use of parallelism in EDA software.
To gear up for 7nm, “we had to literally double our efforts across foundry and design teams…It’s the toughest lift I’ve seen in a number of generations,” perhaps back to the introduction of copper interconnects, said Mark Papermaster, in a wide-ranging interview with EE Times.
The 7nm node requires new “CAD tools and [changes in] the way you architect the device [and] how you connect transistors—the implementation and tools change [as well as] the IT support you need to get through it,” he said.
Both AMD’s Zen 2 and Zen 3 x86 processors will be made in 7nm. “It’s a long node, like 28nm…and when you have a long node it lets the design team focus on micro-architecture and systems solutions” rather than redesign standard blocks for the next process, Papermaster said.
The CPUs and GPUs AMD is shipping today were among its first designs in 14/16nm nodes using double patterning lithography and FinFET transistors.
Papermaster has been with AMD nearly six years after more than 26 years at IBM and short stints managing chip groups at Cisco and Apple. (Image: AMD)
For that work, “our partnerships with foundries and the EDA industry had to deepen. In 7nm it requires even deeper cooperation [because] we have quad patterning on certain critical levels [where] you need almost perfect communications between the design teams,” he said.
Papermaster expects foundries will begin to use extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography starting in 2019 to reduce the need for quad patterning. EUV “could bring a substantial reduction in total masks and thus lower costs and shorten cycle time for new designs,” he said.
“Foundries will introduce [EUV] at different rates but…I urge them all to go as fast as they can,” he said.
To date, AMD has used Globalfoundries, its former fab group, to make its x86 CPUs and TSMC to make its graphics processors. “They have both been aggressive in 7nm and that’s good for the industry. The gap has closed versus where Intel is at and that’s an incredible juncture in the industry that people have predicted and now were seeing it,” Papermaster said.
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