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posted by n1 on Tuesday June 06 2017, @04:11AM   Printer-friendly
from the good-things,-small-packages dept.

IBM, which demonstrated the world's first 7nm process silicon chip in 2015, has followed up at the 5nm node. Extreme ultraviolet lithography was required:

IBM, working with Samsung and GlobalFoundries, has unveiled the world's first 5nm silicon chip. Beyond the usual power, performance, and density improvement from moving to smaller transistors, the 5nm IBM chip is notable for being one of the first to use horizontal gate-all-around (GAA) transistors, and the first real use of extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography.

GAAFETs are the next evolution of tri-gate finFETs: finFETs, which are currently used for most 22nm-and-below chip designs, will probably run out of steam at around 7nm; GAAFETs may go all the way down to 3nm, especially when combined with EUV. No one really knows what comes after 3nm.

[...] One major advantage of IBM's 5nm GAAFETs is a significant reduction in patterning complexity. Ever since we crossed the 28nm node, chips have become increasingly expensive to manufacture, due to the added complexity of fabricating ever-smaller features at ever-increasing densities. Patterning is the multi-stage process where the layout of the chip—defining where the nanosheets and other components will eventually be built—is etched using a lithographic process. As features get smaller and more complex, more patterning stages are required, which drives up the cost and time of producing each wafer.

[...] IBM says that, compared to commercial 10nm chips (presumably Samsung's 10nm process), the new 5nm tech offers a 40 percent performance boost at the same power, or a 75 percent drop in power consumption at the same performance. Density is also through the roof, with IBM claiming it can squeeze up to 30 billion transistors onto a 50-square-millimetre chip (roughly the size of a fingernail), up from 20 billion transistors on a similarly-sized 7nm chip.

Press release. Also at The Verge, TechCrunch, EE Times, PCMag, and CNET.

Related:
Samsung Plans a "4nm" Process


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  • (Score: 2) by richtopia on Tuesday June 06 2017, @04:34PM

    by richtopia (3160) on Tuesday June 06 2017, @04:34PM (#521403) Homepage Journal

    Those scanning electron micrographs of the chip boggle the mind: it looks like IBM is digging out from under their silicon nanosheets and filling the gap with high-k metal gates. I don't know how you would go about that: these structures are indeed tiny but gravity still affects them. Not to mention etching below an existing layer.

    I'm curious how involved Samsung and GF were in these chips. Now that IBM is fabless I would assume that GF actually manufactured the chip, but Samsung's level of involvement is a bit of a mystery to me.

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