Transistors Won’t Shrink Beyond 2021, Says Final ITRS Report

By Tiffany Trader

July 28, 2016

The final International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS) is now out. The highly-detailed multi-part report, collaboratively published by a group of international semiconductor experts, offers guidance on the technological challenges and opportunities for the semiconductor industry through 2030. One of the major takeaways is the insistence that Moore’s law will continue for some time even though traditional transistor scaling (through smaller feature sizes) is expected to hit an economic wall in 2021.

In the executive summary, the report takes a hard “long live Moore’s Law” stance, calling out media for getting it wrong: “The question of how long will Moore’s Law last has been posed an infinite number of times since the 80s and every 5-10 years publications claiming the end of Moore’s Law have appeared from the most unthinkable and yet ‘reputedly qualified’ sources. Despite these alarmist publications the trend has continued unabated for the past 50 years by morphing from one scaling method to another, where one method ended the next took over. This concept has completely eluded the comprehension of casual observers that have mistakenly interpreted the end of one scaling method as the end of Moore’s law. As stated before, bipolar transistors were replaced by PMOS that were replaced by NMOS that were also replaced by CMOS. Equivalent Scaling succeeded Geometrical Scaling when this could no longer operate and now 3D Power Scaling is taking off.”

In its strictest sense the observation-turned-prophecy made by Gordon Moore in 1965 specifies that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit will double every 18-24 months, but the “law” is also used as shorthand for faster, cheaper processing power. When it comes to this second interpretation, doubling transistor densities hasn’t resulted in significantly higher performance since the loss of Dennard scaling about a decade ago.

“We’ve been living in this bubble where the computing industry could rely on the device side to do their job, and so the computer industry and the device industry really had this very nice wall between them. That wall really started to crumble in 2005, and since that time we’ve been getting more transistors but they’re really not all that much better,” said Tom Conte, the 2015 president of the IEEE Computer Society and a co-leader of the IEEE Rebooting Computing Initiative, in an interview with IEEE Spectrum.

The ITRS is anticipating that the industry will move away from FinFET to gate-all-around (GAA) and potentially to vertical nanowires in the 2019 timeframe. This will be needed when gate length scaling is constrained by the limits of fin width and contact width, say the authors. Maintaining performance, reliability and other requirements at scale will require material innovations, e.g., “high-k gate dialetrics, metal gate electrodes, elevated source/drain, advanced annealing and doping techniques, low-k materials.”

By 2020, feature sizes will be down to just a few nanometers, at which point, vertical scaling is set to become more economical. The “rather obvious” solution to running out of horizontal space is go vertical, say the authors, noting that the approach is already being demonstrated in the flash memory space.

“Orienting the transistor substrate vertically and then completely surrounding it with a sequence of dielectric and metal layers deposited by means of deposition to fabricate the composite gate structure can more easily [be] accomplished if the transistor is vertically oriented,” states the report. “It is clear that this method reduces the transistor footprint and in conjunction with creating multiple layers of transistors one on top of the other will accelerate the level of transistor density beyond Moore’s Law traditional trends.”

ITRS 2015 transistor structure roadmap

More Moore

Section 5 of the report focuses on “More Moore” challenges, referring to the need to improve functionalities that do not necessarily scale according to Moore’s law. Even with the benefit of Moore’s scaling, system scaling is limited by power and interconnect bandwidth, for example.

The authors point to three applications that are driving innovations:

+ High-performance computing – targeting more performance (operating frequency) at constant power density (constrained by thermal).
+ Mobile computing – tartgeting more performance (operating frequency) and functionality at constant energy (constrained by battery) and cost.
+ Autonomous sensing & computing (Internet-of-Things: IoT) – targeting reduced leakage & variability.

The section explores the physical, electrical and reliability requirements for logic and memory technologies to sustain PPAC (power, performance, area and cost) scaling. Ideally, node-to-node scaling would achieve gains in line with the following “PPAC” values every 2-3 years:

+ (P)erformance: <30% more maxiumum operating frequency at constant energy
+ (P)ower: >50% less energy per switching at given performance
+ (A)rea: >50% area reduction
+ (C)ost: <25% wafer cost – 35-40% less die cost for scaled die

With the acknowledgement that dimensional scaling is no longer sufficient to sustain higher speed, higher density, lower power and greater functionality, this section of the ITRS report focuses on key challenge areas related to processing modules, tools, material properties and other relevant technologies.

The End of ITRS

The current report, titled ITRS 2.0 2015 Edition, is the last one that will be published. The global roadmap has been updated nearly every year since the first version in 1998. Its predecessor, the National Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors, was started by the US trade group, the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), in 1993. SIA’s membership roster includes Intel, AMD, IBM and many other industry heavyweights.

As explanation for the disbanding of ITRS, SIA, a major ITRS sponsor, stated: “Faced with ever-evolving research needs and technology challenges, industry leaders have decided to conclude the ITRS and transition to new ways to advance semiconductor research and bring about the next generation of semiconductor innovations.”

SIA will continue to conduct its own research and will also collaborate with the Semiconductor Research Association. Further, the IEEE, as part of its Rebooting Computing initiative, has started a more general roadmapping project, called the International Roadmap for Devices and Systems or IRDS.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

TIOBE Index: Python Reaches Another All-Time High

June 17, 2019

TIOBE has released its June 2019 Index, and Python has reached another all-time high. TIOBE, which stands for “the importance of being earnest,” was founded in 2000. Its Programming Community Index – which is u Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

First All-Petaflops Top500 List Debuts; US Maintains Performance Lead

June 17, 2019

With the kick-off of the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) in Frankfurt this morning, the 53rd Top500 list made its debut, and this one's for petafloppers only. The entry point for the new list is 1.022 petaf Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia Embraces Arm, Declares Intent to Accelerate All CPU Architectures

June 17, 2019

As the Top500 list was being announced at ISC in Frankfurt today with an upgraded petascale Arm supercomputer in the top third of the list, Nvidia announced its intention to make Arm a full citizen in the processing arch Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HPE and Intel® Omni-Path Architecture: How to Power a Cloud

Learn how HPE and Intel® Omni-Path Architecture provide critical infrastructure for leading Nordic HPC provider’s HPCFLOW cloud service.

For decades, HPE has been at the forefront of high-performance computing, and we’ve powered some of the fastest and most robust supercomputers in the world. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

5 Benefits Artificial Intelligence Brings to HPC

According to findings from Hyperion Research, simulation is primarily responsible for expanding the global HPC market from $2 billion in 1990 to a projected $38 billion in 2022. Read more…

Jack Wells Joins OpenACC; Arm Support Coming

June 17, 2019

Perhaps the most significant ISC19 news for OpenACC wasn’t in its official press release yesterday which touted growing user traction and the notable addition of HPC leader Jack Wells, director of science, Oak Ridge Le Read more…

By John Russell

First All-Petaflops Top500 List Debuts; US Maintains Performance Lead

June 17, 2019

With the kick-off of the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) in Frankfurt this morning, the 53rd Top500 list made its debut, and this one's for petafl Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia Embraces Arm, Declares Intent to Accelerate All CPU Architectures

June 17, 2019

As the Top500 list was being announced at ISC in Frankfurt today with an upgraded petascale Arm supercomputer in the top third of the list, Nvidia announced its Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Jack Wells Joins OpenACC; Arm Support Coming

June 17, 2019

Perhaps the most significant ISC19 news for OpenACC wasn’t in its official press release yesterday which touted growing user traction and the notable addition Read more…

By John Russell

At ISC: DDN Launches EXA5 for AI, Big Data, HPC Workloads

June 17, 2019

DDN, for two decades competing at the headwaters of high performance storage, this morning announced an enterprise-oriented end-to-end high performance storage Read more…

By Doug Black

Final Countdown to ISC19: What to See

June 13, 2019

If you're attending the International Supercomputing Conference, taking place in Frankfurt next week (June 16-20), you're either packing, in transit, or are alr Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

The US Global Weather Forecast System Just Got a Major Upgrade

June 13, 2019

The United States’ Global Forecast System (GFS) has received a major upgrade to its modeling capabilities. The new dynamical core that has been added to the G Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

TSMC and Samsung Moving to 5nm; Whither Moore’s Law?

June 12, 2019

With reports that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TMSC) and Samsung are moving quickly to 5nm manufacturing, it’s a good time to again ponder whither goes the venerable Moore’s law. Shrinking feature size has of course been the primary hallmark of achieving Moore’s law... Read more…

By John Russell

The Spaceborne Computer Returns to Earth, and HPE Eyes an AI-Protected Spaceborne 2

June 10, 2019

After 615 days on the International Space Station (ISS), HPE’s Spaceborne Computer has returned to Earth. The computer touched down onboard the same SpaceX Dr Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

High Performance (Potato) Chips

May 5, 2006

In this article, we focus on how Procter & Gamble is using high performance computing to create some common, everyday supermarket products. Tom Lange, a 27-year veteran of the company, tells us how P&G models products, processes and production systems for the betterment of consumer package goods. Read more…

By Michael Feldman

Cray, AMD to Extend DOE’s Exascale Frontier

May 7, 2019

Cray and AMD are coming back to Oak Ridge National Laboratory to partner on the world’s largest and most expensive supercomputer. The Department of Energy’s Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Graphene Surprises Again, This Time for Quantum Computing

May 8, 2019

Graphene is fascinating stuff with promise for use in a seeming endless number of applications. This month researchers from the University of Vienna and Institu Read more…

By John Russell

Why Nvidia Bought Mellanox: ‘Future Datacenters Will Be…Like High Performance Computers’

March 14, 2019

“Future datacenters of all kinds will be built like high performance computers,” said Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang during a phone briefing on Monday after Nvidia revealed scooping up the high performance networking company Mellanox for $6.9 billion. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AMD Verifies Its Largest 7nm Chip Design in Ten Hours

June 5, 2019

AMD announced last week that its engineers had successfully executed the first physical verification of its largest 7nm chip design – in just ten hours. The AMD Radeon Instinct Vega20 – which boasts 13.2 billion transistors – was tested using a TSMC-certified Calibre nmDRC software platform from Mentor. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

It’s Official: Aurora on Track to Be First US Exascale Computer in 2021

March 18, 2019

The U.S. Department of Energy along with Intel and Cray confirmed today that an Intel/Cray supercomputer, "Aurora," capable of sustained performance of one exaf Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Deep Learning Competitors Stalk Nvidia

May 14, 2019

There is no shortage of processing architectures emerging to accelerate deep learning workloads, with two more options emerging this week to challenge GPU leader Nvidia. First, Intel researchers claimed a new deep learning record for image classification on the ResNet-50 convolutional neural network. Separately, Israeli AI chip startup Hailo.ai... Read more…

By George Leopold

The Case Against ‘The Case Against Quantum Computing’

January 9, 2019

It’s not easy to be a physicist. Richard Feynman (basically the Jimi Hendrix of physicists) once said: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourse Read more…

By Ben Criger

Leading Solution Providers

SC 18 Virtual Booth Video Tour

Advania @ SC18 AMD @ SC18
ASRock Rack @ SC18
DDN Storage @ SC18
HPE @ SC18
IBM @ SC18
Lenovo @ SC18 Mellanox Technologies @ SC18
NVIDIA @ SC18
One Stop Systems @ SC18
Oracle @ SC18 Panasas @ SC18
Supermicro @ SC18 SUSE @ SC18 TYAN @ SC18
Verne Global @ SC18

TSMC and Samsung Moving to 5nm; Whither Moore’s Law?

June 12, 2019

With reports that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TMSC) and Samsung are moving quickly to 5nm manufacturing, it’s a good time to again ponder whither goes the venerable Moore’s law. Shrinking feature size has of course been the primary hallmark of achieving Moore’s law... Read more…

By John Russell

Intel Launches Cascade Lake Xeons with Up to 56 Cores

April 2, 2019

At Intel's Data-Centric Innovation Day in San Francisco (April 2), the company unveiled its second-generation Xeon Scalable (Cascade Lake) family and debuted it Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Cray – and the Cray Brand – to Be Positioned at Tip of HPE’s HPC Spear

May 22, 2019

More so than with most acquisitions of this kind, HPE’s purchase of Cray for $1.3 billion, announced last week, seems to have elements of that overused, often Read more…

By Doug Black and Tiffany Trader

Arm Unveils Neoverse N1 Platform with up to 128-Cores

February 20, 2019

Following on its Neoverse roadmap announcement last October, Arm today revealed its next-gen Neoverse microarchitecture with compute and throughput-optimized si Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Announcing four new HPC capabilities in Google Cloud Platform

April 15, 2019

When you’re running compute-bound or memory-bound applications for high performance computing or large, data-dependent machine learning training workloads on Read more…

By Wyatt Gorman, HPC Specialist, Google Cloud; Brad Calder, VP of Engineering, Google Cloud; Bart Sano, VP of Platforms, Google Cloud

In Wake of Nvidia-Mellanox: Xilinx to Acquire Solarflare

April 25, 2019

With echoes of Nvidia’s recent acquisition of Mellanox, FPGA maker Xilinx has announced a definitive agreement to acquire Solarflare Communications, provider Read more…

By Doug Black

Nvidia Claims 6000x Speed-Up for Stock Trading Backtest Benchmark

May 13, 2019

A stock trading backtesting algorithm used by hedge funds to simulate trading variants has received a massive, GPU-based performance boost, according to Nvidia, Read more…

By Doug Black

HPE to Acquire Cray for $1.3B

May 17, 2019

Venerable supercomputer pioneer Cray Inc. will be acquired by Hewlett Packard Enterprise for $1.3 billion under a definitive agreement announced this morning. T Read more…

By Doug Black & Tiffany Trader

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This