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Smaller Faster Cheaper – (Part 1)

Posted on Sunday, Apr 8th 2007

By Lance Glasser, Guest Author

Craig Barrett used Smaller-Faster-Cheaper as a mantra at Intel for many years. This is truer today in the semiconductor business than it was even 10 years ago because the preponderance of the customers of the semiconductor industry has shifted from government, as it was in the early days, to industry to, in the last few years, the consumer. The semiconductor industry provides discretionary trinkets for jaded first-world teenagers, on one hand, and information appliances to the developing masses, on the other. Semiconductor companies compete on a global scale—Idaho competes with Germany competes with Japan competes with Korea competes with Taiwan competes with China. There is no shade from the blaze of competition. Price and margin pressures are enormous, and growing.

Technology nodes may be lasting a little longer, but the drive for productivity is undiminished. Moore’s Law is first and foremost a statement about economics rather than an extrapolation of linewidths. As it becomes more difficult to use sub-wavelength lithography to squeeze linewidths, increased productivity and lower costs must come elsewhere. They come in part from innovations in new device geometries and materials. Indeed, as we continue to march down the roadmap, a greater and greater percentage of the productivity is coming from device rather than lithography innovation. We feel this in several ways.

(to be continued)

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