SAN FRANCISCO — Engineers described the latest work in memories, processors, transistor stacks, and 5-nm process technology at the International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM) here.
SK Hynix showed a 72-layer 3D NAND, a research prototype that was a step ahead of 64-layer devices that Samsung announced in August. Separately, SK Hynix and Toshiba described a 4-Gbit MRAM chip.
At a side event, a Qualcomm researcher said that the company is exploring monolithic 3DICs that stack logic and memory transistors. A Stanford group presented work on a new machine-learning algorithm run on a novel 3D device that it claims could leapfrog today’s approaches.
In process technology, researchers said that FinFET transistors still have a lot of life. They also showed work in gate-all-around nanowires that are expected to replace them eventually. And an Intel expert gave a tutorial on lessons learned in interconnect.
Mildred Dresselhaus, a veteran materials researcher who studied under Enrico Fermi, set the tone, accepting an award as a celebrated IEDM member.
“This conference is a good place to do something about the electronics world and what happens after the end of Moore’s law,” she told the gathering of more than 1,600 engineers. At some point, “there will be no more Moore’s law and we will have to do something else,” she said, pointing to promising new materials such as chalcogenides.
Dresselhaus joined the MIT faculty in 1967. “At the time, devices were mostly based on vacuum tubes, and I was one of the early people working on semiconductors — that turned out to be a fruitful field,” she quipped.
“Silicon was too hard, so we started with germanium; then we moved to silicon because it was going to be important, but we had to understand the physics of germanium first,” she recalled.
“Now, instead of going from vacuum tubes to electronics, we will go to something else. I don’t know what that will be, but a lot of people in this room will contribute to it,” said the 86-year-old, who told EE Times that she still goes into MIT daily and reads doctoral theses. “I enjoy thinking about these things and anyone who wants to join me is welcome,” she added.
Next page: Jury’s out on monolithic 3DICs