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Atoms to applets: building systems ICs in the 21/sup st/ century

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1 Author(s)
Pinto, M.R. ; Microelectron. Group, Lucent Technol., Allentown, PA, USA

Enabled by the seemingly never-ending progress of silicon technology, the scope of the task of developing an IC has been broadening-orders of magnitude beyond that which worried industry leaders in the early sixties. As we enter the new millennium, devices are being fabricated using processes managed at atomic levels while IC design involves detailed systems engineering, including direct consideration or even incorporation of application content. By attempting to leverage that entire chain of associated technologies, ever more powerful end-user functionality is enabled, e.g., mobile information access at the most practical costs, power levels, and form factors. Underlying this revolution is that on-chip interconnect is cheaper than going off-chip and the cost of nearly any component on a chip has been consistently reduced 20-30% per year. Additionally, the corresponding improvements in overall system power dissipation, miniaturization, and I/O bandwidth have driven integration of what once were considered distinct technologies, e.g., logic, analog, memory, and RF. While the vision of completely monolithic systems is practical, a level of analysis much more complex than that for the homogeneous CMOS IC is required to justify appropriate directions. Looking further forward, exponential improvements clearly cannot continue forever, and limitations may arise from a variety of interrelated sources-physics, economics, complexity of the task, or lack of applications.

Published in:

Solid-State Circuits Conference, 2000. Digest of Technical Papers. ISSCC. 2000 IEEE International

Date of Conference:

9-9 Feb. 2000