Arm fellow speaks about the limits the semiconductor industry is facing

Advances in silicon processing technologies has brought the semiconductor industry into a transitional, intermediate state of limbo. That is at least the view of Arm Fellow Greg Yeric who gave a keynote presentation at this year’s Arm TechCon highlighting some of the developments and future ideas for silicon manufacturing that is moving the industry forward.

One aspect of technology limbo Yeric said he thought we would see more of is a need to comprehend and adapt architecture to take advantage of a high-density interconnect. “This is kind of an example of this theme of limbo where a lot of cool technologies are coming along. They don’t look like mosfets; they don’t look like von neumann. And we have to do a lot of work to really vet them and understand what is going to give us the best advantage.”

Yeric also noted that advanced memory is an area where the industry seems to be a hitting a brick wall. “So the industry is really hungry for some kind of high-density fast memory that can continue our path on this memory intensive world we are finding ourselves,” he said. Yeric added that this could be seen with foundries agreeing to dump half of the periodic table on their wavers with a certain degree of precision. “Those numbers and those layers are the thicknesses of nanometers. That’s the challenge of memory and that’s why you see it’s not come along as fast as may be a lot of people would like,” he said.

In addition, Yeric noted that given the power scaling story that is expected, technology will need more power than the planet can provide. Consequently, the only way to get off this road is to look to new materials that are more energy efficient.

One way to manage energy better is with two-dimensional semiconductors. “The two-dimensional materials can have really interesting optical properties. They can be magnetic. And in specific cases when they are magnetic, we can use them to control the electron spin as our information source and may be go a lot lower power than using the electron transport. That’s spintronics. Now what’s interesting is there is actually another value of electrons, called the valley, and two-dimensional semiconductors allow us to access the valley property of electrons potentially and use that for an even lower power way for managing information.”

These two-dimensional materials could pave way new scientific fields within the realms of physics, chemistry and biology, according to Yeric. And it is within these fields that progress within the semiconductor industry can be made.

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