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By Nick Flaherty


The demise of Moore’s Law has been a constant discussion for decades in the semiconductor industry. Silicon process technology was expected to hit a wall at 1 micron, then again at 40nm. This led to the ‘More than Moore’ approach of chiplets using 3D stacks of devices on different process technologies for logic, memory and I/O to deliver more integration in a package. This is key technology for AMD/Xilinx and Intel as recent technology announcements showed.   

With the industry facing the challenge of 2nm and 1nm process technology and below that even renaming the process nodes or product lines cannot address, a couple of researchers in the US have taken a fresh look at Gordon Moore’s original premise. Whether this is that the number of transistors increases exponentially, or whether it is complexity, has always been a debate, and it is this that appealed to the researchers who are not from the semiconductor industry or even electronics, but evolutionary biology.

Looking at Intel’s process technology development since the 1960s, those US biologists identified clear, ten year cycles of innovation in the semiconductor industry, and from their perspective, see two more such cycles. Perhaps adding in the process technology leader, TSMC, may have given more confidence in the results, and they highlight new form factors such as the Cerebras ‘AI processor on a wafer’ as a way of increasing complexity. But they do point to the advances in quantum technology as the way that the industry continues its march of innovation.

The chip shortage has highlighted the vital role of the semiconductor industry, and Rolf Segger, founder of German tool developer Segger Microelectronic sat down with us to discuss the shortages.  

While the complexity of chips continues the grow, the challenge of making them secure also grows. Researchers have built a hardware trojan into a test chip to explore how malware operates in detail.

This move to more complex software-defined architectures is also highlighted by the launch of the first satellite to use the technology. Developed in the UK, the geostationary satellite marks a key shift in the design of space systems. Two UK universities in London and Bristol have also set up a joint research centre for the latest 6G technology.

With Analog Devices absorbing Maxim Integrated Products and Renesas Electronics completing the acquisition of Dialog Semiconductor, another large deal hangs in the balance. Nvidia’s deal to buy ARM hangs in the balance as it goes to a full investigation in the UK in a move that is likely ot be reflected by the European competition authorities.

 


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