Intel pushes for more research beyond 10-nm

May 23, 2013 // By by Peter Clarke
Mike Mayberry, director of component research at Intel Corp. has looked down the highway of conventional silicon development and reckons things become foggy beyond about the 7-nm node.

And the methods of pre-competitive collaborative research that have served the industry so far will have to change and be opened up, Mayberry said, as he gave a keynote speech to the IMEC Technology Forum being held here.

Local research institute IMEC works in collaboration with all the major semiconductor companies and its two-day annual forum provides an opportunity for engineering managers and senior executives from around the world to congregate.

Mayberry said that everything up to the 10-nm CMOS node – which is in development at Intel and will ramp production in 2015 - is effectively done. However, he said his job depends on being able to continue to double density and performance every two years beyond that, something for which the way forward is much less clear.

There are numerous ideas that may provide a continuation of silicon such as the introduction of germanium, III-V materials into the transistor channel and the move from fins to vertical wires or dots with gate-all-around (GAA) structures. However, once all of that has been worked through, at great cost, where do you go next, he asked the audience.

Not surprisingly Intel has been contemplating this issue and a few years ago created an internal nanoelectronics research initiative, which has come up with about 20 different ideas for information switching technologies. Mayberry showed a slide with several ideas based on spintronics were information is contained in the spin of electrons.

However, several ideas probably need to be pursued at the same time because it is likely to take a decade or more to bring a radical change in the fundamental operation of electronic circuits to maturity. And all this has to be done in a climate of business consolidation, Mayberry said.

Mike Mayberry, director of component research at Intel, talks to a packed auditorium at the IMEC Technology Forum.

More research during business consolidation
Mayberry jumped back to 1998 when the U.S.