20nm? That's incredible! It's almost difficult to think how tiny that is.
Here's something that'll really bake your noodle: A sodium atom is about 0.16nm wide. That's not unusually large as such things are reckoned.
Now, obviously we'll never push CMOS to anything like that small -- but at 20nm, we can talk about atomic diameter without it being foolishly off-scale. The distance between the traces of a 20nm processor, expressed in sodium atoms, is 125 sodium atoms wide.
What that *does* mean is that when we talk about doping, the amount of dopant deposited matters down to 10s of atoms. There's a difference between 125 atoms of X and 100 atoms of X. That's how tiny the frame of reference has gotten, and how exact we need tools to be to keep pace with it.
20nm come on you can do 18 be a real chip maker buncha wusses
Wow thats remarkble. 2 heads are better than 1
Joel your right that is incredible, Bringing chips to the atomic scale is amazing but doesn't it make developing chips like a finite geometry?
If we keep making them smaller wont we eventually hit atomic level? we might get really close and make chips a tiny bit smaller (tiny a scientific term i made up to mean equaling 1/100 of a nm) but that wont be able to make computers much faster, they will eventually stop being able to make chips smaller. The result of which everyone will scramble to do more with the speed they've got, i am talking revamping hardware, circuits, cooling systems and basic code to create an easier more efficient computer interface.
We started hitting those problems in 2005. Everyone talks about Moore's Law (the tendency for transistor density to double every 18-24 months) but Moore's Law wasn't actually the factor that kept performance moving. It was Dennard scaling -- the tendency for smaller transistors to draw less power and dissipate less heat, that truly kept performance moving upwards.
Long term, CMOS is finished. NAND flash hits hard limits around 14nm, IIRC. Intel has talked about sub-10nm scaling for certain cases, TSMC and GF haven't said much about scaling below 14nm. But when I say long-term, I mean it. We've got another decade of scaling.
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