Wednesday, February 04, 2015

The ITRS is Now Focusing on Systems

Unreal...   I have been talking about this transition for years and, lo and behold, the ITRS (International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors) is now doing the same:

Focus areas:

In an IEEE paper published late last year titled “ITRS 2.0: Toward a Re-Framing of the Semiconductor Technology Roadmap,” the roadmappers explain why it’s time for a change. “As new requirements from applications such as data center, mobility, and context-aware computing emerge, the existing roadmapping methodology is unable to capture the entire evolution of the current semiconductor industry. Today, comprehending how key markets and applications drive the process, design and integration technology roadmap requires new system-level studies along with chip-level studies.”

The ITRS roadmapping committee has already been reorganized to focus on ITRS 2.0. There are now seven groups focused on what ITRS chairman Paolo Gargini calls the seven “building blocks.” 
  • System Integration—studies and recommends system architectures to meet the needs of the industry. It prescribes ways of assembling heterogeneous building blocks into coherent systems.
  • Outside System Connectivity—refers to physical and wireless technologies that connect different parts of systems.
  • Heterogeneous Integration—refers to the integration of separately manufactured technologies that in the aggregate provide enhanced functionality.
  • Heterogeneous Components —describes devices that do not necessarily scale according to “Moore’s Law,” and provide additional functionalities, such as power generation and management, or sensing and actuating.
  • Beyond CMOS—describes devices, focused on new physical states, which provide functional scaling substantially beyond CMOS, such as spin-based devices, ferromagnetic logic, and atomic switch.
  • More Moore—refers to the continued shrinking of horizontal and vertical physical feature sizes to reduce cost and improve performance.
  • Factory Integration consists of tools and processes necessary to produce items at affordable cost in high volume.
I have met ITRS Chairman Paolo Gargini several times during trips to the Industry Strategy Symposium and Semicon West. To say he is distinguished is an understatement:   (34 years at Intel speaks volumes) 

Here is a link to a presentation that is quite technical but gives some insight about industry transitions and how long it takes to get them to production-worthy levels.   On page 18 of the presentation there are some pictures of papers depicting FinFet research from '99. '00 and '01.    Page 28 gives an estimate of the incubation time for these transitions (~12 to 15 years!)

You don't have to listen very hard to hear the noise about who is going to be first with 14nm/16nm production.  From there the crowd shouts about who will be the first to 10nm and then 7nm and if you don't like that you can debate who will be the first to produce 3D NAND.   To me, this is really unfortunate because if one were to take the time to go through the confessionals of the past few weeks it would become clear that the bleeding edge, while certainly glamorous, is not the only segment of the chip industry that is enjoying growth.

Investors should make note of this......

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