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Semiconductor Today Magazine


13 July 2006


SRC launches compound semiconductor research center

At the Semicon West trade show this week, the university-research consortium Semiconductor Research Corp (SRC) of Research Triangle Park, NC, USA launched the Non-Classical CMOS Research Center.

Five universities - led by University of California Santa Barbara together with Stanford, University of California San Diego, University of Massachusetts-Amherst and the University of Minnesota - will collaborate to stretch CMOS to its ultimate performance by introducing III-V compound
semiconductors as alternatives to current silicon technologies ahead of the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS).

Funds of up to $7m will be provided by SRC's member companies and matches from the universities over an initial three-year program. Two more years of funding will be possible as options.

"We plan to ensure that Moore's Law will be alive and well for several more generations," said Dr Jim Hutchby, director of Device Sciences for the Global Research Collaboration (GRC), a unit of SRC responsible for narrowing the options for carrying CMOS to its ultimate limit. "And when the day comes that Moore's Law for classical silicon CMOS is no longer a viable solution, we'll have developed a new set of materials and devices for improvements to the speed and power of the historically successful CMOS technology."

Results from the research are projected to enhance speed for CMOS gates and lower power dissipation in circuits. Significant impact on chip manufacturing is expected as early as 2012-2014. In comparison, the ITRS calls for alternative materials to be available to address semiconductor production at the 22nm level around 2016-2019.

"We expect that a new class of compound semiconductors can provide better peak velocities and lower voltages and allow the industry to supplement silicon's critical paths for speed and power," said Center director and UCSB professor Mark Rodwell. "This new research effort proposes to benefit a long line of applications and users."

Benefits will serve chipmakers and end-users for communications, computing, gaming, automotive and consumer electronics, and a wide range of other
applications that are dependent on silicon's performance.

As an example of the potential for technology and footprint improvements provided by the introduction of compound semiconductors, Rodwell cites the incorporation of indium gallium arsenide to the preamps in satellite dishes,
providing shrinkage of the dish size from 5 feet to 1.5 feet in diameter in less than 10 years, while doubling the quality of reception.

The announcement is the result of rigorous competition over many months under the SRC-GRC's Device Sciences Digital CMOS Thrust, involving a thorough evaluation of white papers and proposals by technical expert teams.

Visit: http://www.src.org