Wednesday, August 18, 2010

EDA Tech Forum 2010: Nanoscale regime and social product innovation

This a continuation of my coverage of the Mentor Graphics' EDA Tech Forum 2010.

Here, I shall discuss the main points of the two keynotes by Dr. Kota Murali, lead scientist & program manager of nanotech, IBM India, and Manjunatha Hebbar, VP & Head – Strategic Services, HCL Technologies Ltd – my good friend and fellow board member at the Indian Microelectronics Academy (IMA).

Nanotech for a smart planet
Dr. Kota Murali, lead scientist & program manager of nanotech, IBM India, presented on nanotech for a smarter planet. The motivation for nanotech at IBM has been -- since IT has grown as devices have shrunk. Now, we have reached the nanoscale level. The challenge is: how do we take new technologies to markets?He briefly touched upon IBM's latest generation processor, the Power7, built on 45nm. The next generation Power8 processors are supposed to be built on 22nm/32nm.

He said that physical and chemical properties of materials depend on the size. Hence, it is important to use nano and quantum scale properties for next generation devices. There is this classical scaling reality -- to maintain generational performance gains, supply voltage is not scaled ideally, leading to major power issues.

In the future, innovation, scaling and power will drive performance. Power will play a critical role in developing next-generation products.

On the novel high-K metal gate (HKMG) devices, these gates are already four monolayers thick. We need HKMG since it significantly reduces gate leakage and chips consume lesser power. Also, it allows equivalent oxide thickness. The shrinking of transistor dimensions can continue unhindered.

Dr. Murali highlighted chemical quantization -- which allows changes in device parameters, as well as energy quantization -- which leads to changes in the fundamental current-voltage characteristics of a transistor. A material's resistance can also change in the nanoscale regime.

GIDL or gate-induced drain leakage is quite relevant to low power devices. GIDL leakage currents are becoming prohibitively high. While HKMG has solved the tunnelling problem, the GIDL issue still remains. Rotating the conventional wafer from <110> to <100> reduces the GIDL by an order of magnitude.

Next, what's the alternative to CMOS devices? These could be 3D transistors with better gate control at 15nm and beyond as well as carbon nanotubes. I checked the Web: carbon nanotubes are molecular-scale tubes of graphitic carbon with outstanding properties. They are among the stiffest and strongest fibres known, and have remarkable electronic properties and many other unique characteristics. Excellent!

Finally, how do you pattern all of these devices? Computational lithography enables density scaling. Challenges include pattern optimization tool, code parallelization, HPC and optics.

Spin electronics could be the next evolution -- leading to spintronics devices at nanoscale. Here, IBM's Giant Magnetoresistive Head, which has been a giant leap for IBM Research, comes into play.

Social product innovation
In his keynote, Manjunath Hebbar of HCL stressed that innovation is required at every level across the entire value chain. A compelling alternative would be the social product innovation, or democratization of product innovation.

Benefits of social product innovation are manifold. The prime ones are --
* right product for the right market at the right time at the right price;
* lowest direct cost; sharing of risk and reward;
* real-time on demand access to resources; and
* organic transformation with the market.

He cited the example of Apple's iPhone, which was launched during the peak of recession. The rest is history, as this smartphone went on to change the dymanics of the mobile phone market!

Hebbar highlighted that the society itself has core values of social product innovation. The core purpose -- help everyone have their lives! The focus should be on process innovation and prodct innovation, leading to business innovation.

Today, everyone is on the cloud, mobile, connected and reading everyone. Creative commons is the most accepted license model today. Co-creation is always welcome.

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