IBM has unveiled the semiconductor industry’s first computationally based process for production of next generation 22nm semiconductors. Known as Computational Scaling (CS), the process enables the production of semiconductors at 22nm and beyond. The new initiative will feature support from several of IBM’s key partners initially including Mentor Graphics and Toppan Printing.
These days the leading-edge semiconducturs are manufactured at 45nm or larger technology nodes. Producing circuits at 22nm is a challenging milestone since current lithography methods – the process of designing photomasks to image circuit patterns on silicon wafers in mass quantity – are not adequate for critical layers at 22nm due to fundamental physical limitations. IBM’s computational scaling overcomes these limitations by using mathematical techniques to modify the shape of the masks and characteristics of the illuminating source at each layer of an integrated circuit.
“The traditional scaling approach is optical-resolution centric. IBM's computational scaling approach is centered on advanced mathematical techniques encapsulated in software tools that use high performance computing systems. This technique also makes technology complexity transparent to the designer and maximizes flexibility through integrated flows and automation,” said Gary Patton, vice president of IBM semiconductor research and development center.
IBM's CS solution is an ecosystem that includes such componene a new resolution enhancement technique (RET) that uses source-mask optimization (SMO); virtual silicon processing with TCAD; predictive process modeling; design-rule generation and corresponding models; design tooling; design enablement; complex illumination; variance control; and mask fabrication, along with necessary partnerships.
The individual components of IBM’s CS solution include source mask optimization technology, virtual fabricator software, design technology co-optimization process, design enablement tools, critical dimension variance control adaptive control system, as well as photomasks with the required feature sizes.