By Ron Wilson, Editor-in-Chief, Altera Corporation
Perhaps no semiconductor process has generated more controversybefore a single product has been shippedthan the 20 nm node. There was argument over whether the node would have to wait for production-ready EUV lithography. It did not: double-patterning, though expensive and restrictive on layout, has met the needs of the finest-resolution mask layers.
There were battles over whether the node would require finFET transistors. Intel, IBM, and UMC say yes; Samsung, TSMC, and GLOBALFOUNDRIES say no. TSMC has since equivocated a bit, pulling forward plans for a 16 nm finFET half-node. Perhaps most notoriously, NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang publicly questioned the economic viability of the whole 20 nm node, saying that its cost per transistor might never drop below that of 28 nm.
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