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Transistors Could Stop Shrinking in 2021

A key industry report forecasts an end to traditional scaling of transistors

6 min read
Photo: Darryl Bautista/Feature Photo Service/IBM
Smallest So Far: IBM made the first 7-nanometer-node test chips. There’s little room to shrink further.
Photo: Darryl Bautista/Feature Photo Service/IBM

After more than 50 years of miniaturization, the transistor could stop shrinking in just five years. That is the prediction of the 2015 International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS), which was officially released in July.

After 2021, the report forecasts, it will no longer be economically desirable for companies to continue traditional transistor miniaturization in microprocessors. Instead, chip manufacturers will turn to other means of boosting density, namely turning the transistor geometry from horizontal to vertical and building multiple layers of circuitry, one on top of another.

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The Transistor at 75

The past, present, and future of the modern world’s most important invention

2 min read
A photo of a birthday cake with 75 written on it.
Lisa Sheehan

Seventy-five years is a long time. It’s so long that most of us don’t remember a time before the transistor, and long enough for many engineers to have devoted entire careers to its use and development. In honor of this most important of technological achievements, this issue’s package of articles explores the transistor’s historical journey and potential future.

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