By Don Scansen, EETimes (February 15, 2021)
Each successive step in semiconductor integration has taken an increasing amount of effort to achieve, but the next node — 3nm — should still arrive right on schedule, according to TSMC chairman Mark Liu. Liu made his remarks during his keynote which kicked off the (virtual) 2021 International Solid State Circuits Conference (ISSCC).
The virtual format did not affect timing of the tutorials and short course which wrapped up over the weekend.
The meat of the conference started today. Since I am in Ottawa, the conference opened at a very relaxed eastern time for me. Despite that, it was my first plenary in pyjamas. It’s also the first time I tapped away at a keyboard through a talk. I don’t know if I was just too embarrassed of my inferior typing skill or avoided it out of politeness, but I have never tried using a laptop during a live presentation.
Liu provided the first talk of the conference, Unleashing the Future of Innovation. Covering this talk in detail hits a few important points. First, TSMC is topical for a range of reasons from chip supply issues hitting industries from gaming to automobiles, strategic initiatives in the semiconductor industry and many questions about how technology scaling can continue. But when it comes down to it, semiconductor manufacturing technology is still my favorite subject.
Liu talked about the many innovations that have led us here and the many potential paths forward, in keeping with the title of this talk. But the theme that regularly popped up was the democratization of technology. As Liu noted later, technology usually starts in the hands of a few but ends up in the hands of many. TSMC sees its gigafab manufacturing as central to advanced technology getting to the largest possible number of people on the planet.
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