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Leading Chipmakers Eye EUV Lithography to Save Moore’s Law

Intel, TSMC, and other chipmakers weigh extreme ultraviolet lithography, which may be ready by 2018

14 min read
Photo of a EUV scanner
Putting EUV to the Test: This EUV scanner (an ASML NXE:3300B) is used to print chip features at a SUNY Polytechnic Institute facility in Albany, N.Y. The EUV light needed to expose wafers is created near the bottom of the scanner, on the side visible in the foreground of this photograph. The far end of the machine is attached to a “track” that coats the wafers before exposure and processes them once they are done.
Photo: IBM Research

Even after you don a bunny suit and get deep inside Fab 8, it’s hard to get a sense of scale. Rows upon rows of tall machines, known as tools, dominate this US $12 billion GlobalFoundries facility, built amid forest north of Albany, N.Y. Carriers containing silicon wafers zip overhead along ceiling-mounted tracks, like tiny inverted roller coasters. If your timing is good, you’ll be standing by a tool when one of those carriers descends to join it, moving a wafer along to the next step in the three-month-long process it takes to turn a dinner-plate-size disk of raw silicon into chips that could be used inside smartphones, personal computers, and servers. That’s right: Begin making a microprocessor here on New Year’s Day and it may just be finished by the start of spring.

img Inside the Machine: To generate EUV, pulses of CO2 laser light are sent into a vessel (top and middle) where they collide with tiny tin droplets to create plasma. This partially assembled EUV scanner (bottom) at ASML’s headquarters in Veldhoven, Netherlands, is one of the company’s more recent models. Photos: ASML

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Jay Last, a Father of Silicon Valley, Dies at 92

IEEE also mourns the loss of several former society presidents

4 min read
A smiling older man in glasses

Jay Last

Max S. Gerber/Redux

Jay Last

Silicon Valley pioneer

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How Claude Shannon Helped Kick-start Machine Learning

The “father of information theory” also paved the way for AI

3 min read
A photo of a man in a suit with his hand on a toy in a maze.
KEYSTONE/GETTY IMAGES

Among the great engineers of the 20th century, who contributed the most to our 21st-century technologies? I say: Claude Shannon.

Shannon is best known for establishing the field of information theory. In a 1948 paper, one of the greatest in the history of engineering, he came up with a way of measuring the information content of a signal and calculating the maximum rate at which information could be reliably transmitted over any sort of communication channel. The article, titled “A Mathematical Theory of Communication,” describes the basis for all modern communications, including the wireless Internet on your smartphone and even an analog voice signal on a twisted-pair telephone landline. In 1966, the IEEE gave him its highest award, the Medal of Honor, for that work.

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Fix DFM hotspots in P&R with sign-off confidence

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