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Feature Article

Feature Article

A Density Metric for Semiconductor Technology

Access the article by H.S. Philip Wong, et al. in Proceedings of the IEEE, April 2020.

Researchers from Stanford, UC Berkeley, MIT, and Taiwan Semiconductor propose that a new metric is needed to track the scaling of transistors, beyond the traditional single metric of gate length. This should focus on functional parameters of circuit density, but which circuits? The authors propose a metric consisting of 3 parameters: logic density DL, memory density DM, and interconnect density DC. These densities can be measured in devices per square millimeter on a chip, so that they can properly characterize the newer 3D integrated circuits that can include multiple layers of logic and memory, sometimes on the same chip. The interconnects link the processor to the main memory, and represent a bottleneck for system performance, so that DC needs to increase as well. For example, one might have a system with [DL, DM, DC] = [40M, 400M, 10K].

Expressed in this way, semiconductor roadmaps can continue to project the future development of high-performance circuits into at least the next decade.

A brief overview of this article is provided by IEEE Spectrum.

Technology Spotlight

Technology Spotlight

The Future of Computing: Bits + Neurons + Qubits

Dr. Dario Gil, Director of Research, IBM

At the International Solid State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) in San Francisco, California, USA in February, Dr. Dario Gil of IBM gave an overview of how IBM sees the future of computing. He projects parallel advances in three technologies: conventional processors (“bits”), neural networks for AI (“neurons”), and quantum processors (“qubits”). Rather than any one of these technologies becoming dominant, he predicts major performance advances in all three, with heterogeneous systems incorporating two or more of these addressing critical problems in the computing environment, integrating cloud and edge computing. Near-term applications of quantum computing may be in quantum simulations for materials development, but longer term advances in AI are possible in combination with bits and neurons.

Access the video of Dr. Gil’s presentation.

Access a companion article in the ISSCC 2020 Proceedings.

A preprint of this article is also available.

Several other plenary talks from ISSCC 2020 are available.