Dawn of a New Age of Chip Technology

Following a long and distinguished career at Sony and Hitachi, an industry visionary reflects on what’s to come

 

For about the past four decades, chip progress was achieved by “shrinking”. Things were simple because three factors – speed, power and density – were improved simultaneously.

In the case of advanced nano devices, leakage current, mobility decrease and wiring delay present additional challenges. New materials and new structures are needed to overcome these drawbacks.

We are now at the dawn of a new age of chip technology wherein SOI technology is a very important element. Devices using SOI are in the early stages of commercialization, including MPUs, watch chips and game chips.

It reminds me of the early days of high speed CMOS technology in late 1970’s, when the industry consensus was: “CMOS is a niche technology for low power”. A high speed 4K SRAM (Hitachi’s 6147) developed in 1979 was the beginning of CMOS evolution. Since then, “quantity and cost” were put on the route of spiraling progress and the whole world changed.

I believe SOI is now at the leading edge of the upward spiral of progress, facilitating the positive feedback of “quantity and cost”. It is the beginning of an SOI evolution towards the exciting future.

Dr. Makimoto recently retired as Corporate Advisor of Sony, where he was instrumental in driving the company’s key semiconductor technology. Prior to that, he held strategic positions at Hitachi for over 40 years. Co-author of the celebrated book, “Digital Nomad” (Wiley, 1997), he is currently a consultant in the field of electronics.

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