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Moore’s Law still refuses to call it quits

The end of CMOS scaling has been expected for quite some time, but the engine that is Moore’s Law refuses to call it quits. There’s an obvious reason for scaling to stop: the Laws of Physics – a brick wall of substantial construction. Yet the industry continues to push towards it, even though the rate of progress has slowed somewhat.

TSMC gave some insight into the future during its latest investor meeting. Co CEO Mark Liu said that now its 7nm process technology was ready for production, most of the team that developed the process were now working on 3nm technology. “We also have a big pathfinding team,” he added, “developing technology to see if we can go beyond that.”

Morris Chang, TSMC’s chairman – who retires shortly – added: “When we first started more than a year ago, there was a question of whether it was even feasible. Now, [we have] become increasingly positive. We’ll go ahead,” he asserted.

While the industry doesn’t want to call time on scaling, it recognises that further progress will be increasingly difficult. Although TSMC is investigating 3nm, it may be another decade before devices are made on such a process.

Even when Moore’s Law ‘hits the wall’, the ingenuity of the semiconductor industry will see progress continue, with faster, cheaper and more capable devices produced.

Graham Pitcher

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