Intel Unveils Technical Breakthroughs with Advancements in Moore's Law and Other Industry Firsts

At the 2023 IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM), Intel unveiled technical breakthroughs wherein Intel researchers showcased advancements in 3D stacked CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) transistors combined with backside power and direct backside contacts. Intel also reported on scaling paths for recent R&D breakthroughs for backside power delivery, such as backside contacts, and it was the first to demonstrate successful large-scale 3D monolithic integration of silicon transistors with gallium nitride (GaN) transistors on the same 300 millimeter (mm) wafer, rather than on package.

Moore's Law is an observation that the number of transistors in a computer chip doubles every two years or so. As the number of transistors increases, so does processing power. The law also states that, as the number of transistors increases, the cost per transistor falls.

Intel announced that it is working to extend Moore’s Law to a trillion transistors on a package by 2030.

Sanjay Natarajan, Intel senior vice president and general manager of Components Research, said, "As we enter the Angstrom Era and look beyond five nodes in four years, continued innovation is more critical than ever. At IEDM 2023, Intel showcases its progress with research advancements that fuel Moore’s Law, underscoring our ability to bring leading-edge technologies that enable further scaling and efficient power delivery for the next generation of mobile computing."

Why It Matters: Transistor scaling and backside power are key to helping meet the exponentially increasing demand for more powerful computing. Year after year, Intel meets this computing demand, demonstrating that its innovations will continue to fuel the semiconductor industry and remain the cornerstone of Moore’s Law. Intel’s Components Research group consistently pushes the boundaries of engineering by stacking transistors, taking backside power to the next level to enable more transistor scaling and improved performance, as well as demonstrating that transistors made of different materials can be integrated on the same wafer.

Intel’s latest transistor research presented at IEDM 2023 shows an industry first — the ability to vertically stack complementary field effect transistors (CFET) at a scaled gate pitch down to 60 nanometers (nm). This allows area efficiency and performance benefits by stacking transistors. It is also combined with backside power and direct backside contacts. It underscores Intel’s leadership in gate-all-around transistors and showcases the company’s ability to innovate beyond RibbonFET, putting it ahead of the competition.

Intel goes beyond five nodes in four years and identifies key R&D areas needed to continue transistor scaling with backside power delivery:
  • PowerVia will be manufacturing-ready in 2024, which will be the first implementation of backside power delivery. 
Backside power delivery refers to the technique of routing power supply lines on the backside of a semiconductor chip or integrated circuit (IC) instead of the traditional frontside. This approach increases logic density and improves power and performance.

At IEDM 2023, Components Research identified paths to extend and scale backside power delivery beyond PowerVia, and the key process advances required to enable them. In addition, this work also highlighted the use of backside contacts and other novel vertical interconnects to enable area-efficient device stacking.

Intel is first to successfully integrate silicon transistors with GaN transistors on the same 300 mm wafer and demonstrate it performs well:
  • At IEDM 2022, Intel focused on performance enhancements and building a viable path to 300 mm GaN-on-silicon wafers. This year, the company is making advancements in process integration of silicon and GaN. Intel has now successfully demonstrated a high-performance, large-scale integrated circuit solution – called “DrGaN” – for power delivery. Intel researchers are the first to show that this technology performs well and can potentially enable power delivery solutions to keep pace with the power density and efficiency demands of future computing.
Intel advances R&D in the 2D transistor space for future Moore’s Law scaling:
  • Transition metal dichalcogenide (TMD) 2D channel materials offer a unique opportunity for scaled transistor physical gate length below 10nm. At IEDM 2023, Intel will demonstrate prototypes of high-mobility TMD transistors for both NMOS (n-channel metal oxide semiconductor) and PMOS (p-channel metal oxide semiconductor), the key components of CMOS. Intel will also present the world’s first gate-all-around (GAA) 2D TMD PMOS transistor, and the world’s first 2D PMOS transistor fabricated on a 300 mm wafer.


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