December 2, 2004 – Noting that the laws of physics will eventually limit the implementation of CMOS scaling technology, the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) has announced a research program — called the Nanoelectronics Research Initiative (NRI) — aimed at assuring US leadership in information technology well into the future.
Formulated by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore in 1965, the observation known as Moore’s Law postulates that the number of transistors that can be placed on a silicon chip will double approximately every 24 months. The ability to scale feature sizes has been the key to assuring a continuing stream of faster, higher-performance semiconductor devices at ever-declining costs, in turn enabling a wide range of electronic products with improved performance at continuously declining cost.
“We are rapidly approaching the time when the laws of physics will limit our implementation of Moore’s Law,” said SIA president George Scalise. “Most scientists now agree that our ability to continue the scaling of CMOS technology — the dominant technology of the semiconductor industry for the past 20 years — will reach its ultimate limit some time before 2020. We are now in a worldwide race to develop new technologies that will enable progress in semiconductor devices to continue at the pace we have seen for nearly 40 years. The Nanoelectronics Research Initiative (NRI) will attempt to link research efforts by leading universities, the federal government, and the US semiconductor industry in a mission-oriented effort to continue the rate of progress that has prevailed since the mid 1960s.”
“The stakes in the race for technology leadership in the era beyond CMOS are extremely high,” said Scalise. “Because semiconductors provide the enabling technology for virtually all computation and communications systems, leadership in semiconductor technology is essential to being competitive in the industries that drive the world’s economy. Our ability to maintain a high standard of living, grow our economy, and assure our nation’s security are all heavily dependent on being a leader in semiconductor technology.”
The SIA said the NRI will bring universities, the federal government and the US semiconductor industry together to conduct research on materials, device structures and assembly methods for microelectronic devices with feature sizes smaller than 10nm.
“We are still in the very early stages of launching the NRI,” said Scalise. “Our first order of business is to get consensus among all parties on defining and prioritizing the specific technical challenges on which to focus research. The only certainty at this point is that the existing technology, materials and production methods simply won’t work when feature sizes must be smaller than 10nm.”
Scalise emphasized that the SIA is not proposing federal subsidies for chipmakers. “We are calling upon the federal government to support university-based research in addressing basic scientific challenges as it has done virtually since the founding of our republic,” he said.