Process Technology at IEDM 2008

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IEDM is a massive conference with dozens of parallel tracks to choose from. This article covers only a small subset of the presentations, focusing specifically on the next generation of logic technologies.

The theme of these presentations was the transition to a high-k and metal gate transistor stack. That trend will continue on into the future, as new materials with superior dielectric characteristics are evaluated. The current material of choice, HfO2 has a theoretical k-value of 25, but in the real world, it appears closer to 20. At IEDM 2007, SEMATECH demonstrated that HfTiSiON (k~40) could be successfully integrated into transistors and would provide further EOT scaling for 32nm or 22nm [7]. Longer term, there are materials with incredible k-values well over 1000 (e.g. lead zirconate titanate) but the difficulty lies in identifying materials that are compatible with silicon and can survive the necessary steps in manufacturing.

New higher-k materials are only one, rather obvious, area of interest. The topics covered at IEDM are overwhelming – alternative materials, source/drain engineering, FinFETs and alternative transistor architectures, quantum devices, MEMS, non-volatile storage, just to name a few. One other theme is that keeping Moore’s Law alive is increasingly complicated and companies will have to pursue a wide range of options to stay on target. Perhaps future articles will begin to explore some of the more likely techniques for the near term.


We would like to thank a number of people who helped make this article possible:

  • Gary Dagastine, who provided the DVD proceedings from IEDM 2008.
  • Dr. Scott Thompson of University of Florida, for some excellent discussions of logic technologies, lithography and transistor stacks.
  • Dan Hutchinson of VLSI Research for a discussion of overall industry trends.
  • Representatives of Global Foundries, IBM, Intel and TSMC for answering questions and providing various papers and presentations.
  • Stefan Wurm, Paul Zimmerman and Erica McGill of SEMATECH and Ryan Young of ASML for their insights into double patterning lithography options.
  • And anyone else who has contributed to this article.


[1] Hutchinson, Dan. “The R&D Crisis”, VLSI Research, 2005.
[2] Ronse, K. “Lithography for the 22nm Node”, Short Course on 22nm CMOS Technology at the International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM), 2008.
[3] M. Chudzik, et. al. “High-Performance High-K/Metal Gates for 45nm CMOS and Beyond with Gate-First Processing”, Technical Digest of the IEEE Symposium on VLSI Technology, 2007, p. 194.
[4] X.Chen, et. al. “A Cost Effective 32nm High-K/ Metal Gate CMOS Technology for Low Power Applications with Single-Metal/Gate-First Process”, Technical Digest of the IEEE Symposium on VLSI Technology, 2008, p. 88.
[5] C. Auth, et al. “45nm High-k + Metal Gate Strain-Enhanced Transistors”, Technical Digest of the IEEE Symposium on VLSI Technology, 2008, p. 128.
[6] H.T. Huang et al. “45nm high-k/metal gate CMOS technology for GPU/NPU applications with highest pFET performance”, Technical Digest of the International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM), 2007, p 285.
[7] P. Sivasubramani, et al. “Aggressively Scaled High-k Gate Dielectric with Excellent Performance and High Temperature Stability for 32nm and Beyond”, Technical Digest of the International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM), 2007, p 543.

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