The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

Winner: Flat, Cheap, and Under Control

Applied Materials' new polishing technology could be the key to the coming generation of microchips

13 min read

As milestones in industrial history go, this one didn't have much in the way of spectacle. Not long ago, in a laboratory in Santa Clara, Calif., five engineers stared into a bucket of chemicals at a silicon wafer as the dull disk gradually grew shiny patches while a clunky-looking motorized polishing pad gently buffed it.

What the event lacked in pizazz it more than made up for in importance. Those little lustrous patches were the first unequivocal sign that researchers had come up with a workable means of solving one of the semiconductor industry's most pressing and intractable problems: how to manufacture faster, more powerful chips without obliterating their vanishingly fine and increasingly fragile features.

Keep Reading ↓Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar

You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

Keep Reading ↓Show less