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"Nanoelectronic Scaling Tradeoffs:  What Does Physics Have to Say?" icon

Nanoelectronic Scaling Tradeoffs: What Does Physics Have to Say?

Beyond CMOS, several completely new approaches to information-processing and data-storage technologies and architectures are emerging to address the timeframe beyond the current SIA International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS). A wide range of new ideas have been proposed for post-CMOS technologies, such as spintronic, molecular electronics, quantum cellular automata, quantum computation etc. For the first time, the 2001 edition of the ITRS contained a chapter on "Emerging Research Devices". Characteristic of any new area, it is difficult to discern which of these concepts has the potential to provide a technological basis for information technologies of the future. However, since introduction of alternative nanoelectronics technologies is possible within a 15-year horizon, it is important to identify nanoelectronic technologies that have the potential to sustain our tradition of exponential improvements in cost-performance. In this presentation, we examine the projections for the continued scaling of CMOS integrated circuit technology and look at some of the alternative directions that have been proposed for information processing technologies. The question we consider is: "What are the ultimate limits to the speed, size, density and dissipated energy of an arbitrary switch, allowed by the laws of physics?" A simple Gedanken experiment is described that seeks to comprehend the benefits of scaling in the nano-regime; e.g., to what extent are molecular, CNT, etc. technologies likely to be useful in continuing the benefits of scaling that we have enjoyed for over three decades? We use a simple potential barrier model for devices to argue that scaling for dense circuits is ultimately limited by power dissipation. This result is connected to fundamental physics of heat removal and leads to scaling limit estimates for maximally dense circuits. Our analysis suggests that perhaps these new nanotechnologies can offer only a limited extension to the scaling paradigm for electron transport devices. Finally we conclude the presentation by examining possible fruitful directions for research in information processing technologies.


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