The Extreme Physics Pushing Moore’s Law to the Next Level

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Published – 02/08/2020 9:12 am

A look inside a new precision machine that wants to reinvent the chip making industry.

An integrated circuit, or chip, is one of the biggest innovations of the 20th century. The microchip launched a technological revolution, created Silicon Valley, and everyone’s got one in their pocket (read: smartphones).

When you zoom in on one of these chips, you find a highly complex, nanoscale-sized city that’s expertly designed to send information back and forth.

And chip manufacturers continue to shrink the size of microchips, hitting smaller and smaller milestones while also increasing the number of features a chip has. The result is an improved overall processing power.

This is what’s been driving the semiconductor industry—a drumbeat called Moore’s Law.

Moore’s Law is the golden rule in computing: The number of transistors on a microchip can be expected to double every two years, while the cost of computers is cut in half. This basically means we’ll have more speed, at less cost, over time. And so, we’ve been shrinking transistors (the tiny electric switches that process data for everything from clocks to AI algorithms) down to really, really tiny nanoscales.

And though we’ve hit a physical limit on how small these transistors can get, Intel (and a couple other competitors, like Samsung and TSMC) are betting big on something new: EUV Lithography.

Find out more about this next generation of chip technology that is taking Moore’s Law to a new level on this episode of Focal Point.

“The giant machine garnering all this attention is an extreme ultraviolet lithography tool. For more than a decade, the semiconductor-manufacturing industry has been alternately hoping EUV can save Moore’s Law and despairing that the technology will never arrive. But it’s finally here, and none too soon.”

Our scientific understanding of the universe is advancing at an unprecedented rate. Join Focal Point as we meet the people building tomorrow’s world. Witness the astonishing discoveries that will propel humanity forward and zero-in on the places where science-fiction becomes science-reality.

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