There was a time when INTEL thought that shrinking their processor chips to size below 100nm was something great and miraculous.But now about 6 months back, INTEL launched its 45nm processors (Penryn platform).And about a week back,INTEL executive Pat Gelsinger says that “Today we see a clear way to get to under 10 nanometers,” and it’ll be within the next 10 years.
After the 45nm Penryn processors,the next shrinking milestone will be the 32nm process which is set to kick off next year.Then continuing with the same trend, INTEL and others will go to 22nm in the next few years.After that 16nm and then according to the International Technology Road-map for Semiconductors it goes to 11nm.
INTEL is expected to touch the 16nm mark somewhere around 2013 and the 11nm mark by around 2015.Technically that’s not a sub-10nm ,but still parts like gate length are actually smaller than 10nm.
Gelsinger said that INTEL had to work hard for adding new elements during chip maker’s relentless pursuit of Moore’s Law, noting that while each new process adds materials used in novel ways, modern processors are still built on a “silicon scaffolding.” “We are putting more and more of the periodic table onto that silicon scaffolding. Today we use about half of the elements on the periodic table. When [Intel co-founder Robert] Noyce and Moore started, they used six elements”.
He also stated that process of shrinking keeps moving forward, and it will go on.The resulting processing power is surely cause “a dramatic restructuring of the user interface.” In the next few years,instead of silicon chips, it may be carbon nanotubes or may be spintronics.The squeezing goes on.