SAN FRANCISCO – Intel Corp. has found a way to create a 10-nm process technology using immersion lithography. In addition, the processor giant is on track to start making chips in a 14-nm process technology before the end of next year, an Intel fellow said in a talk here.
The 10-nm process would debut in 2015 or later. It would require quadruple patterning for some mask layers but “it’s still economical,” said Mark Bohr, director of Intel’s technology and manufacturing group, speaking to EE Times after a talk at the Intel Developer Forum here.
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Bohr did not reveal details of either Intel’s 14- or 10-nm process plans. His comments focused only on technical feasibility.
The company has long worked to develop extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography and recently agreed to invest $4.1 billion in tool maker ASML to drive it forward. “EUV is very important to us, and that’s why we invested in ASML, but we have multiple paths that we pursue such as immersion with multiple patterning,” Bohr said.
Intel expects to use at least double patterning in some layers of some chips at 14 nm. If immersion is used at 10 nm, more layers will require double patterning, and some will even require quadruple patterning, he said.
At 14 nm, Bohr said, "the increased wafer costs [associated with double patterning] is still being offset by improved density, so our cost per transistor continues to go down with each generation on a very steady trend."
That trend would continue, he suggested, even if immersion is used at 10 nm. As of today, “EUV is later than I would like, and I can’t count on it for sure,” he said.
“We are probably the last company continuing to stay on a pace of having a new process technology every two years or so,” Bohr said in his talk.