RMG and Associates

Semiconductor & Patent Expert Consulting

(408) 446-3040 / Ron@Maltiel-consulting.com

Semiconductor Technology Consulting

Insightful, Timely, and Accurate


Samsung's Kim Claims No Limit to Scaling

Speaking at IMEC's Technology Forum this week, the ever-optimistic Kinam Kim of Samsung Electronics asserted that he believes silicon scaling will continue far beyond the nanometer range.

Laura Peters, Editor-in-Chief -- Semiconductor International, 6/4/2009


The ever-optimistic Kinam Kim of Samsung Electronics noted that some people in industry say the limit of scaling is ~5 nm, to which he said, "I do not agree." In fact, he said he believes that there are various possible paths to overcome obstacles of silicon scaling to continue to grow the silicon industry far beyond the nanometer range. Kim, executive vice president and general manager of Samsung's Semiconductor R&D Center and Samsung Fellow, presented at IMEC's Technology Forum in Brussels, Belgium, this week.

Kim said that despite the global economic recession and slowdown of semiconductor markets, most notably memory, several emerging drivers exist in healthcare, IT, automotive, aerospace and robotics, and will be strong engines for silicon growth in the future. Healthcare alone will become predictive, preventive and personalized, using such technologies as biogenics. Advanced robots will use a variety of sensors, combined with computing power, to perform any number of tasks. It will be the incumbent applications of the semiconductor industry, well-known applications in wireless computing and entertainment, which will feed into these emerging applications (Fig. 1).

Incumbent applications will fuel and feed the emerging applications for silicon processing.  
Incumbent applications will fuel and feed the emerging applications for silicon processing.  


Ultimately, he asked the question of whether it is possible to compute without consuming energy. He said it is possible if the concept of reversible computing can be realized: computing with no release of heat (in conflict with the second law of thermodynamics).Some of the things Kim said we could look forward to include the computation speed on a chip eclipsing that of the human brain by 2020 (10 nm node). In 2020, electronic systems (lab-on-a-chip) will be capable of electrically detecting, processing and transmitting information any time, any place. Samsung is optimistic that EUV double patterning (NA=0.25, 0.32, then 0.6) will take patterning to several nanometers in 2014 (Fig. 2). His presentation of the fundamental laws of physics (based on Boltzmann distribution and Heisenberg's uncertainty principle) predicts a limit of scaling around 1.2 nm. In other words, he commented, there is no limit to scaling to several nanometers.

Immersion optical lithography and EUV has the potential to take the industry to several nm resolution.
  Immersion optical lithography and EUV have the potential to take the industry to a resolution of several nanometers.


Specific to the memory market, Kim said that solid-state memory will eventually be replaced by storage class memory, using even less power.In addressing the power crisis of data centers, which follows a pattern of doubling every five years, Kim projects that new storage methods, new interconnects, parallelism and smaller form factors will address the spiraling power needs of these centers.